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Obama nominates Pequot man to fill NIGC seat

WASHINGTON – For the first time in more than two years, the National Indian Gaming Commission is about to be fully staffed.

President Barack Obama has named Daniel J. Little, a member of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, to fill an open seat on the commission for a three-year term, according to an NIGC statement.

With Little’s appointment, the NIGC now has a full three-person commission. George Skibine, a member of the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, serves as acting chair. Steffani A. Cochran, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, joined the commission in January and serves as permanent vice chair.

Obama has yet to nominate a permanent chairman of the NIGC. Skibine’s acting term is due to expire in a couple of months.

Little has a long and varied resume of experience in federal, state and local government affairs, communications for state and tribal governments, hospitality and entertainment establishments, trade associations, corporations, political campaigns and specific knowledge of Indian gaming issues.

He graduated from Florida Atlantic University with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1995.

In his position as manager of National Government Affairs for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Little has gained a wide knowledge of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the regulatory processes governing casino operations.

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He currently provides advice and assistance to the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Commission to ensure that the highest standard of regulatory compliance is maintained at the tribes’ Foxwoods Resort Casino, the largest casino in the country. He also advises the tribe on potential federal regulatory changes or congressional legislative action that could affect its gaming enterprise.

A notice of his appointment was published in the Federal Register Feb. 25.

Little has served as tribal liaison between the Mashantucket Pequot Gaming Commission, the National Indian Gaming Commission, Congress, and other federal and state agencies. He has worked with tribal and government officials at all levels on such gaming-related issues as taxes, economic development and tribal sovereignty.

“This experience has given Mr. Little a thorough knowledge of the laws and regulations governing Class II and Class III gaming and casinos. By virtue of his work on gaming issues and his extensive knowledge of relevant laws and regulations, Daniel J. Little is eminently qualified to serve as a member of the National Indian Gaming Commission,” the notice said.

Little lists his interests on LinkedIn as family, flying and politics. He is a private pilot. His group memberships include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Florida Atlantic University Alumni, World Gaming Executives, Corporate Vegas, Friends of Native America, Casino Executive Club Privee, Global Gaming & Casino Executives, European Casino and Gambling Network, and Online Gambling & Gaming Professionals.

Little could not be reached for comment.

The NIGC was created under the 1988 Indian Regulatory Act. It is a quasi-independent agency within the Interior Department that regulates some aspects of gaming activities on Indian lands.

The nomination for the associate commissioner does not need Senate approval. There is a 30 day comment period after the publication in the federal register, which ends March 30. A swearing-in will take place after that date.