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Gaming Challenges to Sovereignty Highlight G2E

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Challenges to tribal sovereignty remain one of the most contentious issues in American Indian gaming. A session highlighting the latest state and federal attempted incursions into the sovereign rights of tribes is a highlight of the September 28 afternoon sessions at this year’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E).

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Today's session “State Incursions into Tribal Government Gaming: Recent Developments,” (1:15 - 2:15 p.m. PDT) will highlight recent efforts by the states of Connecticut and Oklahoma to infringe on tribal sovereignty. It will be held in the convention center of the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas as part of this year’s G2E, which continues through Thursday, October 1.

The session preview notes “State taxation and regulatory threats on tribal casinos have increased recently. While the United States Constitution and the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act both say Indians are not taxed, efforts to do so continue because the Constitution also vests Congress with the exclusive power to regulate commerce among the states and tribes.

“Despite those prohibitions,” it continues, “Connecticut and Oklahoma have recently increased efforts to tax and regulate Indian gaming operations in their states. Other state and tribal governments across the country are closely watching these developments.”

The session is slated to help attendees understand the legal history of Indian gaming in the U.S., learn the political dynamics at play, and hear what is at stake and what may happen next for tribal gaming.

Speakers include Jamie Hummingbird, director of the Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission; Mike McBride III, moderator, chair of the Indian Law & Gaming Practice Group at Crowe & Dunlevy, Oklahoma; Kevin Quigley, Indian gaming business counsel, Gray Plant Mooty; and Rocky Barrett, chairman, Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

The trials and tribulations of tribes when it comes to gaming will be the focus of another key session on the afternoon of the 28th.

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Tribal Tribulations: Keys to Creating a Sustainable Gaming Economy” (2:30 - 3:30 p.m. PDT) will talk about how increased competition is putting pressure on tribal gaming revenues.

“Speakers will explain how tribal governments can work with their gaming operators to ensure a successful casino operation,” according to the session preview. “This session will address how to improve the performance and viability of the casino operation as well as the unique obligations of protecting tribal lands and sovereignty.”

Key takeaways will be understanding how to craft expectations that meet tribal financial obligations, discovering best practices for communicating with tribal governments, and ensuring accountability of the gaming operators and responsible spending by the tribal government.

Speakers will include Jamie Fullmer (moderator), Blue Stone Strategy Group; Jerry Smith, president, Laguna Development Corp.; Gary Hayes, council member, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe; and Daniel Tucker, chairman, California Nations Indian Gaming Association.

The unique characteristics of running a tribal casino will be the subject of a third session the afternoon of September 28. At “Council Considerations: Tribal Roundtable” (3:45 - 4:45 p.m. PDT) chief executive officers of Indian casinos “compare and contrast the operational aspects of Tribal and commercial casinos.

“Key topics include having similar customers, but different constituents, and approaches to addressing new and emerging gaming segments, such as iGaming, sports betting, and skill-based gaming.”

Speakers include Kate Spilde (moderator), Professor, San Diego State University; John James, chief operating officer, Morongo Casino Resort and Spa; and Kenneth Manuel, assistant CEO, Gila River Gaming Enterprises.

Other tribally related sessions at G2E include tribal management skill sets on September 29 (10:30 - 11:30 a.m. PDT), a speed session on tribal regulatory review on the afternoon of September 30 (3:15 - 4:45 p.m. PDT), and a session on tribal issues with online gaming on the morning of September 30 (10:30 - 11:30 a.m. PDT).