The Indian Gaming Association held this month its annual Summer Legislative Summit at the Stanley Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The two-day legislative summit — the second onsite summit post-COVID-19 pandemic — gathered tribal leaders nationwide to discuss issues central to tribal communities and governments.
At the summit, Indian Gaming Association Chairman Stevens said: "The Summer Legislative Summit is one of our most instrumental gatherings of tribal leadership at the Indian Gaming Association. It allows us to dialogue with the leadership at the Nation's Capital, and more importantly, it is another opportunity to continue to educate this administration and Congress about the critical need of our tribal communities."
Stevens said that "with the political climate that Indian Country currently faces," tribes continue to stand ready to deal with their issues "head-on, and that means educating, talking, meeting, and holding our ground with dignity and respect in protecting tribal sovereignty."
He also shared that because of these impressing issues facing the Indian country, tribal leaders called upon the National Congress of American Indians and the Indian Gaming Association to reactivate the NCAI/IGA task force to respond to "these repeated attacks on our sovereignty."
Stevens said: "We immediately acted and are working together along with tribal leaders standing firm defending tribal sovereignty." The reactivation of the IGA/NCAI Tribal Leaders Task Force was first announced in May.
Jason Giles, Executive IGA Executive Director, provided tribal leaders with an IGA 2023 legislative update, including the recent debt ceiling fight, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and the potential of a government shutdown in September.
Giles said: "It is hard to see how they will avoid a shutdown due to the political climate. Tribal governments need to be ready to provide critical emergency services because the possibility of a shutdown could impact tribes during the onset of colder weather, which is troubling." Giles also provided updates on other issues, including the SLOT ACT, sports betting, and the Maverick Case.
Representative Maggie Harrington (WY At-Large) joined the summit, providing Senate updates on her work as the interim chairperson of the subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs and Congress. Rep. Harrington remarked on the importance of focusing on finding solutions to finding uses for land and economic development.
She shared that HR56, currently in Congress, would allow all tribes to be able to lease their land for economic development and that the Subcommittee is looking to return land taken by the Army Corp of Engineers along the Missouri River and to return forty acres for a monument honoring the dead at Wounded Knee.
Harrington said: "I do not believe we are meeting our commitments to Indian tribes, and I want to address that. I know that some tribes have taken over the responsibility themselves and are providing excellent care. The subcommittee will hold a hearing later this month to address the quality of care provided."
Harrington was followed by updates from Jackson Brossy, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Native Affairs, with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), who provided information on the new federal tools for Native-owned businesses; and Sequoyah Simermeyer, Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission by Zoom.
Both joined the summit and provided an organizational update on the collaborations developed with Indian country and organizations such as the Indian Gaming Association.
Representative Dina Titus (NV-01), the co-chair of the Congressional Gaming Caucus, also joined the SLS summit. Titus shared that part of the tasks of the caucus is to educate people about gaming.
She said: "We have not done a very good job convincing people how much revenue from gaming goes into our communities. Our job is to try to educate people." She also shared updates on the SLOT Act, sports betting, e-sports and problem gaming, and the Discriminatory Gaming Tax Bill 2022.
Also this month, the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) reported that Indian gaming revenues in fiscal year 2022 soared to a historic high, reaching nearly $41 billion. Gross gaming revenue (GGR) for FY 2022 saw a 5% increase from the previous year, totaling $40.9 billion, an increase of nearly $2 billion over fiscal 2021.