Ernie Stevens, Jr. at National Indian Gaming Association conference in Phoenix in March 2016. (Photo by Levi Rickert)
WASHINGTON — After seeing its members excluded from federal funding programs in the recent Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the National Indian Gaming Association is encouraging tribes to reach out to legislators to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
In a letter to members yesterday, NIGA executives Ernie Stevens Jr., Jason Giles and Danielle Her Many Horses encouraged tribal members to send letters to their Senators and Congressman as soon as possible to ensure that tribal gaming would be included in the next federal relief package related to COVID-19. NIGA represents 150 tribal governments nationwide.
Tribal gaming was wedged out of U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) funding programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provided $349 billion in forgivable loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The exclusion was based on SBA standard operating procedures (SOP) that exclude businesses that generate more than one-third of their revenue from legal gambling.
“We can no longer wait for the SBA to come to its senses,” NIGA executives wrote in a letter to members. “Indian gaming is Tribal Government gaming, which generates funding for essential tribal government services: Education, Health Care, Law Enforcement and Public Safety, Fire Protection, Water and Sanitation, Child and Elder Care, Cultural Centers and Museums.”
The letter concludes: “Please send the Attached Letter to Your Senators and Congressmen As Soon As Possible because Congress has the next COVID-19/CARES Act+ Legislation Under consideration now.”
Tribal leaders can find a copy of the letter NIGA is encouraging tribes to send to Congressional members here.