Front Row (L-R): Stacy Leeds, Ruth Ann Weaver, Shannon Chuculate-Fisher
Back Row: (L-R) Jason Soper, Jennifer Barger-Johnson
The Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission (CNGC) is the independent tribal gaming regulatory authority established in 1990 as a part of the Executive branch of tribal government under Title 4 of the Cherokee Nation Code Annotated. Our purpose is to ensure the fairness and integrity of gaming activity within Cherokee gaming facilities as well as to protect the Nation’s assets and the public health and safety of those who work and visit our gaming facilities.
The mission of the CNGC is, through effective regulation and oversight, to protect tribal assets, promote integrity and to ensure a sense of fairness between the public and Cherokee gaming operations. These principles guide the CNGC as it develops, implements and enforces gaming regulations and controls.
The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the regulations of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), the State Gaming Act, and tribal gaming ordinance and regulations help shape the overall regulatory framework that exists at each Cherokee gaming facility. Overseeing the application of other regulations, such as those of the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fire Prevention Association, and the Oklahoma State Department of Health are also part of the CNGCs responsibilities. The Tribal-State Compact and Off-Track Wagering Compact also provide gaming rules that are applied at the various gaming facilities.
The task of ensuring compliance with these laws and regulations falls on the five (5) Gaming Commissioners that are appointed by the Principal Chief and confirmed by the Council, each serving a three (3) year term. In turn, the Commissioners are supported by staff serving in Administration, Compliance, Audit and Licensing departments who are charged with managing the daily regulatory operations at each gaming facility.
The CNGC is called to perform many functions and duties including:
- Licensing – The CNGC conducts background investigations on and may issue gaming licenses to all persons that work in the gaming facilities as well as those that have responsibilities relating to the legal and/or financial integrity of the gaming facilities. The CNGC also performs the same duty as it relates to vendors and their employees, when appropriate, that conduct business with the gaming facilities
- Game Review & Approval – The CNGC reviews all electronic games, table games, card games, and any equipment associated with a game (e.g. cards, chips, table felts) that are requested by the gaming facilities and compares them to the legal requirements of either the NIGC or those contained in the Tribal-State Compact. The CNGC has additional requirements that each game must meet. If the game satisfies the applicable standards, the game/equipment may be approved and released for play by the public.
- Compliance – The CNGC is responsible for regulatory oversight of all activities occurring within a gaming facility. All areas of the gaming operation – for example, gaming machines, table games, financial transactions, gaming disputes, special events, and food & beverage outlets – fall under the watchful eye of on-site CNGC personnel who strive to ensure that everyone – the gaming facility and its employees as well as its patrons – stay within the various laws and regulations.
- Audits – As a part of federal and tribal statutes and provisions of the Tribal-State Compact, the CNGC performs audits on all gaming facilities on a regular basis. The purpose of the audits, which cover nearly every department within a gaming facility, is to identify any areas in which the facility is not compliant or where it may be open to unnecessary risk of fraud or theft. The CNGC is also responsible for ensuring that an annual external audit is performed.
- Environmental, Public Health and Safety – Efforts associated with this duty include, but are not limited to performing on-site safety inspections, food safety inspections, construction inspections, and preparations for special events (e.g. concerts, sporting events). The CNGC staff is assisted by the Cherokee Nation Risk Management department and the Cherokee Nation Office of Environmental Health who provide experienced professionals to conduct facility reviews.
On a daily basis, the CNGC oversees the conduct of gaming at nine (9) gaming facilities that reside on Indian land around the Nation’s 14-county jurisdictional area. The CNGC also has regulatory oversight responsibility for a horse racing track and casino (also called a “racino”). The facilities, located in Roland, Catoosa (Hard Rock and the Catoosa Smoke Shop), West Siloam Springs, Tahlequah, Fort Gibson, Sallisaw, Ramona and the Will Rogers Downs racino in Claremore, employ over 4,000 people and offer over 6,200 electronic games and 80 card/table games.
Boards and Commissions are independent of the Service Core Program although they depend on common services provided to all programs. They provide oversight, regulatory and management authority of various enterprises and functions related to the Cherokee Nation, depending on the respective legislative authority chartering the activities or business enterprise. This service is not available to the general public.