Clarification On Recent Media Reports Regarding NIGA’s Participation In The Sports Betting Coalition

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NIGA Member Tribes

Chairman Ernest L. Stevens, Jr.

Clarification On Recent Media Reports Regarding NIGA’s Participation In The Sports Betting Coalition

August 3rd, 2017

At our most recent NIGA Board Meeting on July 17, 2017, the Board voted to join the AGA’s Coalition on Sports Betting.  By joining this coalition, the Board’s stated intent was to enhance Indian Country’s seat at the table on this important issue.

Various media organizations mischaracterized NIGA’s participation in the coalition as supporting the legalization of sports betting.  I want to clarify that the NIGA Board has not taken a position on the issue of sports betting legalization.  We realize that legalizing any new form of gaming, at any level of government, impacts our Tribal gaming industry’s economic interests. NIGA also realizes that as a national organization, taking a position on a particular form of gaming requires input from all of our Member Tribes.  These types of gaming issues raise provincial concerns unique to each and every tribal government engaged in gaming.  One of the key tenets of NIGA’s decision making under my Chairmanship is an emphasis on consensus building, if not complete unity, on gaming issues.  Despite media mischaracterizations, I was clear in my statement on NIGA’s joining the sports betting coalition.  To emphasize, I stated that “Of chief concern to NIGA is to ensure that tribal interests are protected, particularly avoidance of negative impacts on existing tribal-state compacts and exclusivity clauses, and to ensure that if a new form of gambling is legalized in the United States—that tribal governments be provided an equal opportunity to participate in and regulate the new industry.”

The potential of Sports betting legalization will be a main topic at NIGA’s Mid-Year Conference in Phoenix, Arizona, September 19-21, at the Renaissance Hotel.  The State of New Jersey’s lawsuit against the U.S. and the legality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 will be heard by the Supreme Court possibly late this year, with a decision sometime in 2018.  At the same time, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) has released draft legislation that would repeal PAPSA and allow States and Indian tribes to determine if sports betting should be legal in their jurisdictions.  Congressman Pallone and his staff thoroughly engaged NIGA on this issue prior to releasing their draft legislation and are still open to input from Indian Country.

These developments will be discussed thoroughly at our Mid-Year.  The NIGA Board is scheduled to meet and will once again discuss the sports betting issue.  The Board will receive input from our Regional Board representatives about their views on the debate on the legalization of Sports Betting.  Further, there will be several panel discussions and tribal leader discussions during the Mid-Year Membership meeting and conference.

We hope you can join us in September for these important discussions and we look forward to Indian Country’s input on this important gaming issue.