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Ordinance expanding per capita payments withdrawn for further discussion

Ordinance expanding per capita payments withdrawn for further discussion

Debate about how to spend revenues from the tribe’s growing portfolio of out-of-state gambling businesses will continue into the next term after Tribal Council voted to withdraw a paired resolution and ordinance addressing the issue Sept. 25. 


“The goal is to provide an increased distribution back to the tribe. EBCI Holdings agrees with that. They’re not going to stand in the way,” said Attorney General Mike McConnell in presenting his request to withdraw. “But we don’t want to get to the state regulators and have them say, ‘It looks someone else is really in control here, therefore we’re going to expand the licensing requirement.’”

Board members of the tribe’s commercial gaming business, EBCI Holdings, must go through a rigorous and expensive licensing process. Part of the reason the board was created was to prevent a situation where Tribal Council members would have to be licensed. The process is too time-consuming and expensive to go through each election cycle, and if one of the representatives could not pass the licensing process, that would create a conflict with the democratic process.

The prudent thing to do, McConnell said, would be to run the proposed language by the state regulators to ensure the changes would not trigger a requirement that Council members be licensed.

Additionally, Tribal Council must agree on what language it wants to go into effect. The two pieces of legislation included an ordinance, which would amend tribal law pertaining to how the revenues are allocated, and a resolution, which would guide EBCI Holdings’ internal operations. However, the two documents gave different instructions as to how money should be allocated.

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“We want to have those work together,” McConnell said.

The resolution states that the tribe could choose how it wants to apportion the distributions, rather than using the mandatory percentage allocations in effect now. All revenues would go to the tribe’s Debt Service Sinking Fund “or other fund as the Tribe may request from time to time.”

The ordinance, meanwhile, states half of proceeds from the Sandy’s Racing and Gaming project in Kentucky and Caesars Virginia Casino in Danville, Virginia, would be distributed as per capita payments. The other half would go to the Debt Service Sinking Fund. Under the ordinance, revenues from Caesars Southern Indiana Casino would be distributed according to the policy already in place, with 25% apiece to the Debt Service Sinking Fund and Endowment Fund No. 1, 20% apiece to the Higher Education Endowment and Cherokee Indian Hospital Reserve Account and 10% to the Housing Fund. 

Painttown Rep. Michael Stamper agreed to withdraw the resolution to be resubmitted later but questioned why the necessary conversations with state regulators had not been had already, speculating that “somebody’s dragging their feet there.” The change has to happen soon, he said.

“We put a lot of money into these outside projects, and then we don’t really have a whole lot to show for it when it comes back for distribution purposes,” he said.

Snowbird/Cherokee County Rep. Adam Wachacha, the only Council member of those present to vote against the move to withdraw, said that the time has come for entities like EBCI Holdings to start paying the tribe back for its investment. He could agree with withdrawing the ordinance, he said, but not the resolution, wanting to see “some actionable item” go through without delay. 

“I know that most of our entities are through the incubator period and establishing themselves to the point that they understand the type of revenue that is going to be coming back to the tribes or to themselves,” he said. “Here in recent times, we’ve watched our entities continue to grow, but we’re almost over here pinching pennies trying to make sure we can fulfill our obligations in the projects we want to continue to lay out in our own communities.”

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