The Interior Ministry announces new regulations to protect tribes

The Interior Ministry has announced updated federal regulations that will increase the “clarity and transparency” of Indian gaming contracts.

The goal of the Interior Department’s rules is to make it easier for tribes to negotiate deals, with gambling being “one of the key drivers of tribal economic development.”

The regulations also aim to simplify the process for tribes seeking Interior Department approval for treaties with states.

The amendments to 25 CFRPart 293 are expected to clarify the Department of Interior’s criteria for approving tribal agreements by clarifying limits on aspects of negotiations, defining key terms, and outlining when the Department of Interior should review a treaty.

The Interior Department says the final rule “reflects tribes’ input and recommendations,” with the new regulations taking effect 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register. This is expected to happen this week.

Interior Department Secretary Deb Haaland said, “Indian gaming not only supports the economies of tribal nations, but the funds it generates also help support the vital services that tribal nations provide to their citizens.”

“By updating these regulations, we will provide tribes with certainty and clarity for an industry that continues to be one of the most significant sources of economic development in Indian Country.”

Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland added: “By providing clarity on negotiations for a Class III gaming treaty, the Biden-Harris administration is fulfilling its obligations to Indian Country.”

Tribal sovereignty is under attack

2023 was an extremely important year as tribal nations fought for sovereignty in the United States.

As state governments seek to take more control of Indian Country and fear of the courts persists, tribes are stepping in to defend their exclusive casino and gambling rights.

Overall, tribal gaming is developing well. The National Indian Gaming Commission’s annual report showed revenue rose 4.9% to $40 in 2022. This year-over-year increase of $1.9 billion is the highest ever recorded.

But despite the continued strong performance of tribal gaming and casinos, leaders are still at odds with politicians and commercial gaming interests seeking to capture a share of tribal success. This is done by both the state governments and the courts.

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