The U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will a hold an informational hearing on Feb. 9 to discuss internet gambling issues in light of the Justice Department’s new view of federal law.
The last hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee on Nov. 17th illuminated several key issues, and the upcoming hearing is an ideal forum for bringing them into clearer focus.
For example, there already exists a federal agency with experience regulating gambling. If the federal government is going to assume new duties related to the regulation of gambling on the internet, it might make most sense to delegate those duties to an agency that already has relevant experience. In the United States, that agency is the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Created pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 U.S.C. 2701), the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) oversees aspects of the regulation of gambling on tribal territory in conjunction with tribal regulatory authorities who are local to the tribe.
General Counsel for NIGC, Larry S. Roberts, appeared as a witness at the Indian Affairs Committee’s last hearing, but at that time Roberts was generally reluctant to comment on any potential role for NIGC because no federal bill has ever proposed to give NIGC a role. Nonetheless, Roberts’ testimony and the question and answer exchange which takes place afterward provides great perspective of the issues.
Overall, compared to the earlier hearings in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the discussion at the Indian Affairs Committee’s last hearing was far more productive. This is partly because the Indian Affairs Committee proceeded on the assumption that regulation is probably necessary, so the committee was therefore able to spend more time contemplating the most effective means to achieve necessary goals. Meanwhile the House Energy and Commerce Committee has struggled to overcome the gateway question of whether internet gambling should even be regulated in the first place.
Video of the last Indian Gaming Committee hearing on Nov. 17th is available for streaming on the committee’s website.
Also available on the committee’s website is the testimony of all witnesses at the last hearing, including Larry S. Roberts, General Counsel of the National Indian Gaming Commission; Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe (located within Connecticut); Glen Gobin, Chairman of Tulalip Tribes (located within Washington); Ernie Stevens, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association; Alfonse D’Amato, Chairman of the Poker Players Alliance; Penny Coleman, Principal of Coleman Indian Law (firm based in Washington, D.C.); and Grant W. Eve, whose company provides consulting and certified public accounting firms for more than 100 tribal entities.