The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) has issued a notice of violation against the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma for “multiple” infractions against three different sets of regulations, including the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
In particular, an NIGC statement about the violation said, the tribe failed to submit “timely and compliant” financial statements and agreed-upon procedures (AUP) for four different fiscal years. According to the NIGC, the violations took place at two Oklahoma casinos:
- Golden Eagle Casino
- The now-closed Silver Buffalo Casino
What went wrong with the Apache’s Oklahoma casinos?
In the NIGC’s notice of violation, it laid out exactly what the parameters are for submitting audits. Tribes should:
- Submit annual audits of each gaming operation, per IGRA
- Hire an independent CPA to conduct annual independent audits of each casino every fiscal year, per the NIGC
- Submit the independent audit and financial statements to the NIGC within 120 days after the end of the casino’s fiscal year
The Apache tribe made missteps in each of those areas. Of note is the fact that the tribe submitted an audit and financial statements for the Silver Buffalo Casino and Golden Eagle Casino‘s 2013 fiscal years. However, the CPA who provided the audio was on probation with the state’s accountancy board and, in 2013, revoked his license.
As a result, the NIGC told the tribe that the 2013 audits were no good because an unlicensed CPA conducted them.
However, the Apache tribe never submitted a new audit for either casino for that fiscal year.
Overall, the NIGC noted that the Apache tribe failed to submit one form or another of proper documentation in 2013, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
NIGC Chairman E. Sequoyah Simermeyer said in a press release:
“NIGC’s technical assistance provided to the Tribe over the past several years to correct these violations and to improve its internal controls and record keeping has not resulted in voluntary compliance. Submitting timely and accurate annual independent audit reports and AUPs is critical to NIGC’s mission to protect the integrity of Indian gaming, and we do not take this enforcement action lightly.”
What’s the possible punishment for the Apache tribe?
While no punishments are set in stone, the NIGC noted that the Apache tribe could be on the hook for a $57,527 fine per violation per day. Considering that the tribe has not submitted a financial audit for FY2013 for two of their casinos, the fines could be massive.
However, Simermeyer noted the tribe has 15 days from the date of the letter (April 19) to respond with written information about the violations. The chairman will “consider any information submitted in determining the facts surrounding the violations and the amount of the proposed civil fine, if any.”