Saunooke turns down Tribal Gaming Commission appointment

by Jan 20, 2023NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Asst. Editor


Robert Saunooke has decided not to accept an appointment to serve on the Tribal Gaming Commission (TGC) for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI).  Saunooke was appointed by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed and was set to have a Tribal Council confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

“Our Tribe is currently facing a number of financial, cultural, and other challenges,” Saunooke told the One Feather.  “I believe my experience in tribal gaming would have been helpful to the Tribal Gaming Commission, but my experience, contacts, and knowledge may be better utilized elsewhere.  While I appreciate the nomination, I feel it is more important for me to focus on my campaign for Chief.”

Chief Sneed said in a statement, “Rob’s initial eagerness to pursue the appointment and his background in gaming law identified him as a strong candidate for the appointment; however, I understand his decision to withdraw his name for consideration to the TGC Board and instead focus his efforts on his campaign for Principal Chief.”

Saunooke, an EBCI tribal member, served as president of the National Native American Bar Association for the term of 2019-20 and has been a board member since April 2011.

The powers of the TGC are outlined and codified in Cherokee Code Section 16-2.14 as follows:

In accordance with the terms of this chapter, the Commission shall have the power and duty to:

(a) Conduct or cause background investigations to be conducted on primary management officials and key employees and other gaming employees;

(b) Review and approve all investigative work conducted;

(c) Report results of background investigations to the NIGC;

(d) Obtain and process fingerprints, or designate a law enforcement agency to obtain and process fingerprints;

(e) Make suitability/eligibility determinations;

(f) Issue licenses as authorized in this chapter, consistent with appropriate suitability determinations;

(g) Initiate investigations and enforcement actions for licensee violations of this chapter, or any other applicable Tribal, State, or Federal laws or regulations applicable to a gaming operation;

(h) Limit, cancel, revoke, terminate, condition, modify, suspend, or restrict any license, and impose civil fines or sanctions for any violation of a license or this chapter;

(i) Inspect, examine, monitor and audit all gaming activities, and have immediate access to review, inspect, examine, photocopy and audit all records of all gaming operations, for regulatory compliance purposes;

(j) Ensure compliance with all applicable Tribal, Federal, and, if applicable, State laws, rules, and regulations regarding Indian gaming;

(k) Hold hearings on patron gaming disputes, in compliance with procedures established in this chapter;

(l) Comply with any and all reporting requirements under this chapter, the IGRA, the Tribal-State Compact, and any other applicable law;

(m) Issue orders of temporary closure of gaming activities for violations of this chapter or of contractual obligations to the Tribe, the IGRA or the Compact or orders of permanent closure of gaming activities for violations of this chapter, Tribal gaming regulations or contractual obligations to the Tribe;

(n) Initiate civil and criminal actions in court to enforce provisions of this chapter, Tribal gaming regulations or the IGRA;

(o) Monitor all gaming activities conducted on the Tribe’s Indian lands on a continuing basis;

(p) Conduct such hearings as authorized pursuant to article VI, including administering oaths or affirmations to witnesses and issuing subpoenas to compel witnesses to appear at such hearings;

(q) When information is received through audits or other investigations that indicates a violation of Tribal, federal or applicable state ordinances, laws or regulations, to treat as confidential and provide such information to the appropriate law enforcement officials;

(r) Adopt regulations as authorized in Section 16-2.15; and

(s) Adopt Class II and Class III gaming license applications.