NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: This is Jana?
MS. McKEAG: McKeag.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: McKeag. Welcome.
MS. McKEAG: Thank you.
Hi. Good afternoon. My name is Jana McKeag, and I am Vice President for Government Affairs of Inland Casino Corporation. It is a company that assists Indian tribal governments develop, administer, and market their gaming facilities.
From 1991 to 1995, I served as a Bush administration appointee to the National Indian Gaming Commission. I have worked in Indian affairs in various capacities for over 25 years, and I am a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
I'd like to address the Commission from my experiences as a regulator, which as Commissioner Bible can attest is a necessary, but usually thankless job, and also as someone who has spent nearly half of her life working to better the lives of her fellow American Indians.
The 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created a three-tiered regulatory structure to oversee Indian gaming. The federal government actually has a minimal role, with the bulk of the regulatory responsibility falling on tribes and states as prescribed in a compact agreement, and since in 1988 the majority of state had neither the resources nor the expertise to regulate Class 3 gaming, casino gaming, most of the regulatory burden was placed on tribal governments.
Tribes recognized the success of their gaming operation is dependent on the credibility of their regulatory controls. During my years on the NIGC, I was constantly impressed by the time, effort and resources tribal governments dedicated to creating strong, viable tribal gaming commissions. Please examine these commissions as part of your study.
Tribal gaming is regulated by tribal governments because under the law tribes are recognized as sovereign nations by the federal government. Therefore, tribal gaming is governmental gaming, not commercial gaming, and please take this important distinction into account as you undertake your study.
Unlike approximately 94 percent of the overall gaming industry, the proceeds of the tribal gaming benefit the citizens of that government and not the shareholders of a commercial entity. In less than ten years the proceeds from Indian gaming have provided benefits and opportunities never imagined under 200 years of unwilling federal dependency. Schools, scholarships, clean water, hospitals, roads, senior citizen centers, drug rehabilitation programs, housing, day care centers, the list goes on.
Most importantly, it has replaced hopelessness with employment and pride. Tribes are not the sole beneficiaries of Indian gaming. Inland Casino Corporation has the privilege of working with the Barona Tribe of Michigan Indians located near San Diego. The Berona Tribe and the two other San Diego area tribes, Sychuan and Viejas, employ 4,550 people, primarily non-Indians, with an annual payroll of over $770 million. They also spend over $79 million annually, with 4,150 local vendors on goods and services.
I appreciate the opportunity to address the Commission, and I look forward to working with you in the future.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you.