Use the links below to see FAQs by category.

How do I appeal if I want a decision on written submissions only, without a hearing?

How do I appeal a notice of violation, order of temporary closure, proposed civil fine assessment, the Chair’s decision to void or modify a management contract, the Commission’s proposal to remove a certificate of self-regulation, or a notice of late fees and late fee assessment, if I want a decision on written submissions only, without a hearing?

A tribe or the recipient of the action that is the subject of the appeal may file a notice of appeal within 30 days after service of the action. The notice of appeal must reference the action or decision from which the appeal is taken, shall include a written waiver of the right to an oral hearing before a presiding official and an election to have the matter determined by the Commission solely on the basis of written submissions, and should be mailed to the address identified in the action. Copies of the notice of appeal must be filed personally or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. Service of copies of all documents is complete at the time of personal service or, if service is made by mail, facsimile, or email, upon transmittal.

Although it may extend other deadlines in the appellate process, the Commission may not extend the time for filing a notice of appeal.

Additional rules, including those that govern the filing of an appeal brief, are found at 25 C.F.R. §§ 580-581 and 585.

How do I appeal if I want a hearing before a presiding official?

How do I appeal a notice of violation, an order of temporary closure order, a proposed civil fine assessment, the Chair’s decision to void or modify a management contract, the Commission’s proposal to remove a certificate of self-regulation, and a notice of late fees and late fee assessment, if I want a hearing before a presiding official?

A tribe or the recipient of the action that is the subject of the appeal may file a notice of appeal within 30 days after service of the action. The notice of appeal must reference the action or decision from which the appeal is taken, and should be mailed to the address identified in the action. Copies of the notice of appeal must be filed personally or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. Service of copies of all documents is complete at the time of personal service or, if service is made by mail, facsimile, or email, upon transmittal.

Although it may extend other deadlines in the appellate process, the Commission may not extend the time for filing a notice of appeal.

Additional rules, including those that govern the filing of a list of proposed witnesses, the nature of their testimony, and an appeal brief, all of which are due within 10 days of the notice filing; and rules on the hearing process, are found at 25 C.F.R. §§ 580-581 and 584.

How do I appeal the Chair’s decision related to a gaming ordinance?

A tribe may file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the Chair serves a disapproval letter. The notice of appeal must reference the disapproval, and should be mailed to the address identified in the disapproval letter. Copies of the notice of appeal shall be filed personally or by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested. Service of copies of all documents is complete at the time of personal service or, if service is made by mail, facsimile, or email, upon transmittal.  Although it may extend other deadlines in the appellate process, the Commission may not extend the time for filing a notice of appeal.

Additional rules, including those governing the filing on an appeal brief, are found at 25 C.F.R. §§ 580-582.

How do I submit fingerprints?

The NIGC submits fingerprints to the FBI on behalf of tribes, tribal regulatory authorities and tribal gaming facilities. See Fingerprint Processing.

How do tribes apply to have lands taken into trust?
Land into trust is a real estate transaction that converts land from private or individual (fee) title into federal title. Trust status can only be conferred by an Act of Congress, a court decision or settlement, or, most commonly, through an application through the U.S. Department of Interior.
When should a tribe seek an Indian lands determination from the NIGC?
Indian gaming must occur on
Under what authority are tribes permitted to conduct gaming in states?
In 1987, the Supreme Court in California v Cabazon Band of Mission Indians confirmed the authority of tribal governments to establish gaming operations independent of state regulation. The following year, Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), which provided a regulatory framework for Indian gaming. IGRA offered states a voice in determining the scope and extent of tribal gaming by providing that the state in question must permit some form of the gaming and by requiring Tribal-State compacts for Class III gaming (casino gaming). Tribal regulatory authority over Class II gaming (bingo, pulltabs, and certain card games) was left to the tribes. IGRA further provided for general regulatory oversight at the federal level and created the National Indian Gaming Commission (Commission or NIGC).
Why doesn’t a casino have to comply with local and state zoning?
Although states and local governments generally have the right to regulate persons and activities within their borders, and Indian reservations are contained within such borders, the United States Constitution gives Congress the exclusive authority over Indian affairs. Unless Congress specifically authorizes a state to apply its laws within an Indian reservation, it may not do so. However, in IGRA, Congress declared that the construction and maintenance of tribal gaming facilities must adequately protect the environment and the health and safety of tribal casino employees and patrons. The Commission ensures that these provisions of the IGRA are implemented.
What is the role of the state government in Indian tribes?

State governments have no control or authority over Indian tribes unless specifically authorized by Congress.

What is a federally recognized Indian Tribe?

Federal recognition means a group of Indians has been recognized as a tribe and the interactions between the tribe and the Federal Government are on a government-to-government basis. Inclusion on the list of federally recognized tribes entitles a tribe to special services and benefits. The Department of the Interior maintains this list. Federal recognition can be a result of historical continued existence, Executive Order, congressional legislation, or the Department of the Interior's federal acknowledgement process. Federal recognition is typically a requirement of being eligible for federal aid or funding. The Federal Government has broad powers in dealing with tribes; however, the powers are subject to constitutional restrictions.

Where can I submit electronic copies of financial statements, management letter, and AUP Reports?

Filings of tribal gaming operation’s financial statements, management letters and Agreed Upon Procedure reports can be submitted electronically to financiaIs_AUPfilings@nigc.gov or two hard copies can be sent to the main office in Washington, DC at NIGC Division of Finance, c/o Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop #1621, Washington, DC 20240.

What is the sole proprietary interest mandate of IGRA?

IGRA requires that all tribal gaming ordinances contain a provision requiring that tribes maintain the sole proprietary interest in and responsibility for its gaming activity. See Declination Letters.

When must a tribe submit a management contract to the NIGC Chairman for his approval?

Upon the execution of a management contract, a tribe or management contractor must submit the contract to the Chair for review and approval. No action should be taken under a management contract until it has been approved. Moreover, management contracts that have not been approved are void. If a tribe or contractor is uncertain whether a gaming-related contract, such as a development, lease, or consulting agreement, requires the approval of the NIGC Chair, they should submit the contract to the NIGC. The NIGC will review each submission and determine whether it requires the Chair's approval. If it does, the NIGC will notify the tribe or contractor to formally submit the contract. See How to request a legal opinion.

What is the difference between Class II and Class III gaming?

In IGRA[OS1] , Congress included the definition of Class II gaming as follows: bingo; when played in the same location as bingo - pull tabs, lotto, punch boards, tip jars, instant bingo, other games similar to bingo, and non-house banked card games authorized or not explicitly prohibited by the state in which the tribal operation is located. All other games are Class III, except for certain social or traditional forms of gaming. Class III games include, but are not limited to the following: baccarat, chemin de fer, blackjack, slot machines, and electronic or electromechanical facsimiles of any game of chance. The NIGC Office of General Counsel reviews games on request by a tribe or a game developer and issues advisory opinions on whether they are Class II or Class III. See How to request a legal opinion.

How can a tribe operate a casino on land that is in another state?

IGRA permits tribes to operate gaming on eligible Indian lands as that term is defined in the Act. The definition of Indian lands is not tied to a Tribe’s location in any particular state, but rather to the land’s status as reservation, trust, or restricted fee land and the Tribe’s jurisdiction over the land. It is possible for a tribe to have gaming eligible Indian lands in multiple states. See Indian Lands Opinions.

What is a Revenue Allocation Plan and when is it required for a tribe to have one?

IGRA requires tribes to use net gaming revenues only for specific purposes. In addition to those purposes, a tribe may elect to directly share gaming revenues with its citizens. This payment is called a “per-capita payment.” If a tribe chooses to make per-capita payments, it must first adopt and submit to the Secretary of the Interior for approval, a revenue allocation plan (RAP). The RAP specifies how the tribe will allocate net gaming revenues as required by IGRA.  See Revenue Allocation Plans.

Do all tribes make payments to individual citizens from gaming revenue?

No. Tribes are not required to make per-capita payments and many tribes choose not to.

What happens to the profits from Indian gaming operations?

IGRA requires net revenues from any tribal gaming operation to be used for the following purposes:

  • fund tribal government operations or programs
  • provide for the general welfare of the Indian tribe and its members
  • promote tribal economic development
  • donate to charitable organizations
  • help fund operations of local government agencies.

If a tribe is able to adequately provide these services and wishes to distribute net revenue in the form of a per capita payment to members of the tribe, the tribe must have a Revenue Allocation Plan, which is approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

When must a tribe submit a gaming ordinance to NIGC for the Chair’s review and approval?

Prior to engaging in Class II or Class III gaming, a tribe must submit a gaming ordinance or resolution adopted by its governing body to the NIGC for review and approval by the NIGC Chair. Amendments to gaming ordinances must be submitted within 15 days of adoption by the Tribe.

What is a Tribal-State Compact?

Tribal-State compacts are agreements that establish the rules to govern the conduct of Class III gaming activities. Although a compact is negotiated between a tribe and a state, the Secretary of the Interior must also approve the compact. See Gaming compacts.

Does gaming have to take place on either reservations or land held in trust?

IGRA requires that Indian gaming occur on Indian lands. Indian lands include land within the boundaries of a reservation as well as land held in trust or restricted status by the United States on behalf of a tribe or individual, over which a tribe has jurisdiction and exercises governmental power. This would include fee lands that are within the boundaries of the reservation. Tribes operating gaming facilities off of Indian lands are subject to the laws of the state where the facility is located.

What must a tribe do before opening a gaming facility?
  1. The tribe must determine whether the state in which the gaming facility is to be located permits such gaming.  If the state permits gaming by any person, organization or entity, then tribes are allowed to conduct Class II gaming activities without state approval.  If the tribe wishes to conduct Class III gaming, a Tribal-State compact must be negotiated.

  2. Indian gaming must be conducted on Indian lands within a tribes’ jurisdiction.  Indian lands are defined as all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation and any lands title to which is either held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual or held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to restriction by the United States against alienation and over which an Indian tribe exercises government power.

  3. The tribe must submit a tribal gaming ordinance to the Commission.  The ordinance must provide, among other things, that:  (1) the tribe will have the sole proprietary interest and responsibility for conducting gaming, (2) net revenues will be used for specific purposes, (3) annual outside audits will be conducted, and (4) a process for licensing and conducting background checks is in place.  The Chair of the NIGC must approve an ordinance before gaming can occur.

  4. If a tribe wishes to have the gaming facility managed by a third party, the Chair must have reviewed and approved a management contract.

Who regulates Indian gaming?

Indian tribes are the primary regulators of Indian gaming.  The NIGC regulates Class II gaming, as well as aspects of Class III gaming as consistent with IGRA. The regulation of Class III gaming may also be addressed in compacts between tribes and states. The level of state regulation varies by state.

In which states does Indian gaming occur?

Indian gaming occurs in the following 29 states

Alabama Louisiana  North Carolina
Alaska Massachusetts North Dakota
Arizona Michigan Oregon
California Minnesota Oklahoma
Colorado Mississippi South Dakota
Connecticut Montana Texas
Florida Nebraska Washington
Idaho Nevada Wisconsin
Iowa New Mexico Wyoming
Kansas New York  
Does the Commission approve the opening of every Indian casino?

The Commission does not specifically approve the opening of Indian gaming facilities. However, before a tribe may operate a gaming facility, the NIGC must have reviewed and approved a tribe's gaming ordinance. A tribe must also license every gaming facility and submit to the NIGC notification that a license will be issued and a copy of any license that is issued. In addition, the land upon which the gaming operation will be located must be Indian land for gaming purposes. Additionally, if a tribe wishes to have management by a third party, the Chair must review and approve the management contract.

Where is state-specific information on casino profits located?

The NIGC does not make tribal-specific or state-specific confidential financial information available to the public.

How can the Commission regulate a multi-billion dollar industry on a limited budget?

Tribes are the primary regulators of gaming operations. The role of the Commission is necessarily less focused on the day-to-day operation of tribal gaming facilities, and more focused on monitoring, providing technical assistance and training, and supporting the work of tribal gaming regulators. Further, depending on individual Tribal-State compacts, some states may play a regulatory role in Class III Indian gaming operations.

How is the Commission funded?

The Commission is solely funded through fees collected from tribal gaming operations under its jurisdiction. The agency bases fees on a percentage of net revenue of Class II and Class III operations. See Annual Fees.

What is the Commission’s role in regulating Indian gaming?

 IGRA vested the NIGC with the primary purpose of supporting tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and protection of the integrity of Indian gaming. To carry out that purpose, IGRA gives the NIGC approval authority over management contracts and tribal gaming ordinances, and mandates the Commission to provide training and technical assistance, and enforcement when necessary. Congress also vested the Commission with broad authority to issue regulations in furtherance of the purposes of the IGRA.