Washington in brief


<b>NIGC economic study predicts heavy impact for proposed Class II regs</b>

The National Indian Gaming Commission has released a study that forecasts a 57 percent loss of revenue for tribal operations in compliance with proposed new regulations on Class II gaming.

A 57 percent loss per compliant Class II gaming machine would amount to an estimated $142.7 million reduction in revenue from Class II machines, according to Alan Meister, of the Analysis Group Inc. in Los Angeles. Separate associated costs would come from job loss, facility closures and the price tag on compliance with new regulations, among numerous other items chronicled by Meister.

The regulations, open for comment until Nov. 15, have been offered by the NIGC at the prodding of the Justice Department, according to remarks of NIGC Chairman Phil Hogen at a Sept. 19 public consultation meeting. Hogen predicted a lawsuit if the regulations are promulgated.

Michael Anderson, an attorney with Monteau and Peebles in Washington, stopped short of predicting a lawsuit at the same meeting. But he took note of recent court decisions to suggest that NIGC hadn’t lived up to legal standards for notification to tribes of the impact of major agency decisions.

Meister stated that tribes without alternatives to Class II gaming will be the hardest hit. For such tribes, Class II gaming represents their best opportunity to capitalize on the $23 billion Indian gaming industry. Class II operations – bingo, pull-tabs, poker and other “nonbanked” card games – can take place outside of tribe/state compacts. Class III gaming, particularly slot machines, blackjack, roulette and other “house-banked” games of chance, remains the primary profit center of most gaming operations.

Congress has left Class II regulation to the NIGC, but recent court rulings have limited the commission’s role in Class III activities.

<b>Ney goes quietly at the last</b>

Months after being indicted and announcing he wouldn’t run for another term in Congress and pleading guilty to crimes that included several on behalf of Jack Abramoff client tribes, Bob Ney has resigned from the House of Representatives.

The Ohio Republican’s Nov. 3 decision spares him an expulsion that had been promised by his fellow lawmakers as a first order of business following the Nov. 7 elections. Zack Space, a Democrat, won the seat abandoned by Ney, but his tenure won’t commence until January.

Abramoff, the convicted GOP lobbyist, will be sentenced soon for his own more far-reaching crimes of bribery and fraud, many of them undertaken with tribal money but without tribal knowledge.