Simermeyer Outlines NIGC Bulletin on Sports Books

The National Indian Gaming Commission’s (NIGC) E. Sequoyah Simermeyer recently met with the New Mexico Association of Indian Gaming Commissions, marking one of his first public meetings since being commissioned to serve as Chairman.

During the meeting at the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel north of Albuquerque—one of the first Tribally regulated sports books to open following the May 2018 Supreme Court decision that struck down Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act—he announced the new NIGC Bulletin on Sports Books, and forecasted plans for a public-facing advisory group on Agency bulletins.

“Clear Agency guidance empowers Tribal communities to regulate and develop Indian gaming in their own communities,” said Chairman Simermeyer, adding that the “Bulletin provides a new resource for Tribes contemplating policy considerations related to the sound regulation of sports betting on Indian lands. It also underscores the NIGC’s role in the oversight of sports books on Indian lands as part of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act’s framework.”  

The Bulletin responds to requests from Tribal officials and the Indian gaming industry in recent years. Those requests sought clarification from the NIGC on the topic of sports books on Indian lands. The Bulletin is available on the NIGC website at www.nigc.gov.

The Bulletin outlines four models that Tribes can follow  to launch sports betting, ranging from Tribal independent management of all aspects of a sportsbook to a sportsbook wholly owned and operated by a third party yet hosted on Tribal lands. Other options entail having a sportsbook operated by a Tribe, but using third-party data. Alternatively, a Tribal-owned sportsbook could be managed by a third party. 

The NIGC underscored that when third parties are involved: management agreements must be submitted to the NIGC Chair for approval. Failure to submit plans to the NIGC and operate an unauthorized sportsbook could constitute a breach of the Indian Gaming Regulating Act (IGRA)—violating the sole proprietary interest requirement under IGRA. Financial penalties could result. 

The Bulletin also highlights Freedom of Information Act provisions for redacting commercial and/or proprietary information from publicly available advisory opinions.

Chairman Simermeyer also shared his plan to emphasize outreach and Agency accountability in the NIGC’s daily operations. The NIGC website is host to numerous bulletins on a variety of topics. Chairman Simermeyer discussed the Commission’s support for a more formal process that would invite tribal representatives to participate in a public facing group to advise the Commission on NIGC bulletins, including potential topics for future bulletins.

Simermeyer told the New Mexico Association of Indian Gaming Commissions, “It is the NIGC Commissioners’ responsibility to maintain this body of guidance in an informed and transparent manner. An advisory group can only aid the Commission in ensuring that its guidance remains relevant and continues to address the needs of a growing and sophisticated industry.” He went on to say, “Vice Chair Isom-Clause and I are working on a process to stand up an advisory group and hope to offer more details in the coming weeks.”

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