Helpful Hints for Reporting suspect IGRA Violations to the NIGC Division of Compliance
The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) wants to ensure information is being reported to the correct entity with jurisdiction over your matter. Please take a minute and read the following information before reporting a suspected Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) violation to the NIGC. The United States Congress enacted IGRA on October 17, 1988, to regulate the conduct of gaming on Indian lands. IGRA establishes the NIGC and the regulatory structure for Indian gaming in the United States.
IGRA has the following purpose:
(1) To provide a statutory basis for the operation of gaming by Indian tribes as a means of promoting tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments;
(2) To provide a statutory basis for the regulation of gaming by an Indian tribe adequate to shield it from organized crime and other corrupting influences, to ensure that the Indian tribe is the primary beneficiary of the gaming operation, and to assure that gaming is conducted fairly and honestly by both the operator and players; and
(3) to declare that the establishment of independent Federal regulatory authority for gaming on Indian lands, the establishment of Federal standards for gaming on Indian lands, and the establishment of a National Indian Gaming Commission are necessary to meet congressional concerns regarding gaming and to protect such gaming as a means of generating tribal revenue.
Tribes are the primary regulators of their gaming operations. The NIGC’s primary focus is to monitor tribal gaming facilities, provide technical assistance and training, and support the work of tribal gaming regulators. In doing so, the Commission, through its Compliance Division, conducts routine site visits at tribal gaming facilities and performs audits to monitor compliance with the IGRA, NIGC regulations and tribal gaming ordinances or resolutions approved by the NIGC Chair. The NIGC can provide training and technical assistance both in person and remotely.
Through monitoring, audits and the use of technical assistance and training provided by the NIGC, the Tribes address the majority of non-compliance violations voluntarily. Serious, repetitive or willful violations may be addressed by the Chief Compliance Officer through the issuance of a letter of concern to the Tribe detailing the NIGC’s concerns regarding compliance with the IGRA, NIGC regulations, and/or tribal gaming ordinance or resolutions. A letter of concern describes the available facts and information, includes a preliminary assessment regarding the incident or condition, and provides a time period for the violator to respond.
Violations may further be addressed by the NIGC Chair through the issuance of a notice of violation, temporary closure order and civil fine for violations of any provision of the IGRA, NIGC Regulations or of any tribal ordinance or resolution. The Chair’s discretion to take enforcement action is not limited or constrained on whether or not a letter of concern was issued.
Violations of the IGRA, NIGC Regulations or tribal gaming ordinance or resolution may include:
- When the tribe does not maintain sole proprietary interest and responsibility for the conduct of any gaming activity (Please see NIGC Bulletin No. 2021-6 Sole Proprietary Interest at
- When net revenues1 from any tribal gaming are used for purposes other than to fund tribal government operations or programs, to provide for the general welfare of the Indian tribe and its members, to promote economic development, to donate to charitable organizations, and to help fund operations of local government agencies;
- If the construction and maintenance of the gaming facility and the operation of gaming is conducted in a manner that does not adequately protect the environment and the public health and safety; and
- If tribes and/or gaming operations do not develop and implement internal controls to protect the integrity of gaming and protect tribal assets.
II. Report Processing
Upon receipt of a specific allegation of a violation, the NIGC will evaluate the information to determine jurisdiction over the matter and whether the NIGC needs to take any one of the following actions:
- Open an investigation, or perform an audit or inspection;
- Refer the matter to the tribal gaming regulator for appropriate review and action; or
- Refer the allegation to another Federal agency or other law enforcement authority with jurisdiction over the matter.
Allegations with limited specificity or merit may be held in abeyance until further, specific details are reported, or it may be determined that the matter be dismissed.
Jurisdiction: The IGRA provided for distinct jurisdictions over matters involving tribal gaming. Tribes are the primary regulators and have jurisdiction and responsibility to regulate Class I, II, and III gaming. NIGC shares jurisdiction with the tribes over all Class II matters and limited Class III matters. The Tribes and State share jurisdiction over Class III matters related to Class III internal controls, compacted games, and patron disputes arising from compacted games. The United State Attorney has jurisdiction over criminal matters involving tribal gaming. Additionally, the Tribes, Department of Interior – Office of Indian Gaming, and NIGC have jurisdiction over specific matters involving tribal-state gaming compacts and revenue allocation plans (per capita payments).
III. Prize Claims and Patron Disputes
To determine whether a tribe has jurisdiction for a potential prize claim or patron dispute, first, ask yourself did the event occur at a gaming operation licensed by a federally recognized tribe or is it on a tribe's Indian lands as defined by IGRA. If it is not, you may need to contact the state’s gaming authority where the operation is located. It is important to understand that if you have a patron dispute regarding a prize claim that you should first attempt to resolve the issue by contacting the management of the casino where the event occurred. You must obtain a copy of the prize claim or dispute procedures from the casino or tribal gaming regulatory authority/tribal gaming commission. Be sure to follow the procedure by filing your claims with the tribal entity identified timely and in the manner prescribed in the procedure. If casino management does not resolve the dispute, you should next contact the tribe’s gaming commission or tribal gaming regulatory authority in accordance with their procedure. If you report this event to the NIGC, in most cases, the NIGC will refer the matter to the tribal gaming regulator to investigate. Each tribe is required under NIGC regulations to include a copy of their prize claim dispute procedures with any tribal gaming ordinance submitted to the NIGC Chair for approval. Some tribes include the process or part of the process in their tribal gaming ordinance. In instances where the tribe offers Class III gaming under a tribal-state gaming compact, the process may be addressed in the gaming compact.
The NIGC will investigate those matters where the patron was denied the opportunity to file a claim through the tribe’s procedure. Typically, this includes instances where there is no process established or if there is evidence of fraud. The NIGC will not interrupt or intervene on behalf of a patron during the tribe’s dispute process. Filing a report or claim outside of the tribe’s process may void your claim under the tribe’s rules. Please review the tribe’s procedures in full before reporting the matter to the NIGC.
IV. Complaints May Remain Anonymous
Individuals who contact NIGC or report a suspected violation via email@example.com are not required to provide their identity. However, persons who report allegations are encouraged to identify themselves in the event additional questions arise as the NIGC evaluates or pursues their allegations.
V. What Information Is Useful
The more information you can provide the better. Consider providing a summary of your allegation, including what, when, where, why, and how. For example, answering some or all of the following questions would be helpful:
- What did the tribe, casino, tribal gaming regulator, or gaming vendor do or fail to do that you believe violated the IGRA, NIGC Regulations, the tribal gaming ordinance or resolution or other gaming-related laws?
- What are the specific details regarding the suspected violation?
- When did the alleged violation occur?
- Where did the alleged violation occur?
- What rule, regulation or law do you believe was violated?
- How and when did you learn of the suspected violation?
- Do you have first-hand knowledge of the events?
- If this involves a patron dispute (disagreement regarding a win or loss), provide details of the event, to include: date, name or description of the game, denomination, location of game within the casino, whether you notified casino management, name of the casino representative(s) present, whether you filed a patron dispute with the casino and tribal gaming regulator, did they respond, have you completed the patron dispute process through the tribal gaming regulator, and what was the outcome.
- Do you have supporting documentation for your allegation?
- If supporting documentation exists outside your control, where can that documentation be found?
- What are the names and contact information for other individuals who are aware of any facts that support your allegation?
- If this involves an allegation of a violation of a revenue allocation plan specific to a per capita payment please include; the date of the alleged violation, the date you filed for redress with the tribe in accordance to their grievance process described in the tribe's approved revenue allocation plan.
VI. Additional Documents
If you have supporting documentation that you wish to share with the NIGC, we recommend that you scan your documents together in one electronic file. You may email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Email non-classified documents only and do not include individuals' personal identification information such as date of birth, social security number or address. For classified information or documents that contain personal identification information, please contact the NIGC Region Office nearest you for instructions on how to use our encrypted drop box. Link to Region Office contact information and location map: https://www.nigc.gov/compliance/regional-offices
Keep in mind that it is unlawful to make any false statement, representation, or certification in any report. Violations can be punished under 18 U.S.C. §1001 by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by imprisonment of not more than 5 years, or, if the offence involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined by 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or by both.
There is no presumption of confidentiality and confidentiality for individuals who report allegations is not automatic. Such individuals may request confidentiality and these requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Individuals who request and are granted confidentiality are additionally advised that:
- The individual will be asked to sign a Confidential Informant agreement.
- Confidentiality applies only to one’s identity, not to the information provided (i.e., the NIGC may, if necessary, share the facts and circumstances provided by the individual);
- Individuals may later consent to release their identity;
- Your identity may be disclosed to other NIGC personnel, prosecutors, and law enforcement agencies or may be disclosed pursuant to court order or Congressional committee request;
- Your identity will be included in NIGC files, memoranda, records, etc.;
- The NIGC cannot control the extent to which other persons to whom you have reported allegations or information will protect your identity;
- Given the nature of the information you provided, other individuals, including coworkers, subordinates, supervisors, etc., may deduce or infer the NIGC’s source of the information; and
- A request for confidentiality may preclude the NIGC from taking further action, if the information provided is of such a specific or personal nature that action could not be taken without the disclosure of your identity.
If you truly wish to remain anonymous, do not provide your name or other information and facts that would identify you, your occupation, or relationship to the tribe or gaming operation. Do not use your personal or work phone to call NIGC. Do not use your personal or work email account to communicate with NIGC. Anonymous reports sometimes carry less weight than those reported by individuals who identify themselves, but the report will be reviewed regardless of the method you chose.
VIII. Status Inquiries
Inquiries as to the status of a prior report can be made by contacting the responding Region office or by using email@example.com. However, the only information that will be provided is whether your information has been received and is being reviewed. No other information will be provided. If you elected anonymity at the time you filed your report, no information will be provided. Once the file is closed, you may file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain further details related to the report. NIGC FOIA Link
Due to Privacy Act and NIGC Policy restrictions, the NIGC will not proactively provide status updates on your report.
The NIGC cannot provide you with legal advice, or an official legal opinion, or bring any legal action on your behalf. Should you desire such a result, the NIGC encourages you to seek private legal counsel. The NIGC cannot recommend or refer you to any private legal counsel.
X. Report A Violation
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: See respective region contact information at https://www.nigc.gov/compliance/regional-offices
- Mail: See respective region contact information at https://www.nigc.gov/compliance/regional-offices
1Net revenues mean gross gaming revenues of an Indian gaming operation less - (a) Amounts paid out as, or paid for, prizes; and (b) Total gaming-related operating expenses, including all those expenses of the gaming operation commonly known as operating expenses and non-operating expenses consistent with professional accounting pronouncements, excluding management fees.