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CRIT's legal win in gaming case upheld by court
November 20, 2006

Appeals court reaffirms sovereignty over inappropriate federal regulation

In a key victory for Tribal sovereignty, a federal appeals court recently upheld a legal victory earned by CRIT against the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).

The decision that was upheld stated that the NIGC does not have the authority to regulate “Class III” gaming, such as slot machines and blackjack.

The case stemmed from NIGC's attempts to audit Class III gaming activities at the BlueWater Resort & Casino several years ago. CRIT objected to the audit and was fined by the NIGC, but a federal judge later agreed with CRIT's position that the NIGC has no legal authority over Class III gaming.

The decision by the Court of Appeals is a significant victory for CRIT and its efforts to prevent inappropriate government regulation and preserve tribal sovereignty.

The ruling said “What is the statutory basis empowering the commission (NIGC) to regulate Class III gaming operations? Finding none, we affirm” the lower court's decision.

Class III gaming is extensively regulated by both gaming tribes themselves and by state gaming departments as part of gaming compacts.

“This is an important legal victory our people and for all gaming tribes because it shows that the Federal Government cannot overstep its bounds and regulate areas it are not entitled by law to regulate,” said Tribal Chairman Daniel Eddy, Jr. “We strongly support proper regulation of Tribal gaming. However, the oversight provided by our Tribal gaming office and the Arizona Department of Gaming are more than adequate, as well as being within the boundaries of the law.”

The decision not only strikes down improper regulation and affirms Tribal sovereignty, it saves tribes valuable resources that can be used for other important programs.

CRIT's efforts received the support of many other tribes, as well as the National Indian Gaming Association.

“Today, the Federal Court of Appeals told us what Indian tribes always knew - it is not the NIGC's job to establish federal regulations that override the sovereign decisions of tribes and states made through Class III gaming compacts,” said the association's chairman, Ernest Stevens Jr., in a statement after the ruling.

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