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State-Tribal Gaming Compacts

Federal law completely preempts state law regarding gaming on Indian reservations. It requires states to negotiate in good faith to reach gaming compacts to provide for gaming on Indian lands. In compliance with federal law, Montana has class III compacts with five of the state’s seven reservations:

  • Assiniboine and Sioux Nations of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation
  • Chippewa Cree Nation of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation
  • Crow Nation of the Crow Indian Reservation
  • Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Nations of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation
  • Northern Cheyenne Nation of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation

No compacts currently exist with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation or the Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Reservation. The Salish and Kootenai and Blackfeet Tribes have casinos offering class II gambling.

Assiniboine and Sioux Nations of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation

In December 2012, the State and the Assiniboine and Sioux Nations of Fort Peck signed a new Class III gaming compact, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior on December 20, 2012.   In addition to other forms of gambling that are legal in Montana, the 2012 compact allows up to a total of 750 Class III machines to be operated within the Reservation, which includes maximum wagers of $10 and maximum payouts of $2,500 for “regular stakes” machines.  The compact also provides that up to 20% of the Class III machines on any premises may be “high stakes” which may have a maximum wager of $50 and a maximum payout of $5,000.

Blackfeet Nation of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation

There is no Class III state-tribal gaming compact with the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. A short-lived compact was terminated in 1997. State-tribal negotiations with regard to a new Class III compact in 2006, did not result in a new gaming compact. Currently, the Blackfeet Nation operates the Glacier Peaks Casino, which is a Class II gaming facility.

Chippewa Cree Nation of Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation

In December 2012, the State and the Chippewa Cree Nation signed a new Class III Tribal-State Gaming Compact, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior on February 4, 2013.  In addition to other forms of gambling that are legal in Montana, the 2012 compact allows to be operated within the Reservation up to 750 Class III machines, with maximum wagers of up to $10.  The compact provides for maximum payouts of $3,000 in up to 500 machines, and maximum payouts of $5,000 in up to 250 machines.

Crow Nation of the Crow Indian Reservation

On February 7, 2014, the US Department of Interior published its approval of the 8th Amendment to the gaming compact with the Crow Tribe.  The compact was originally entered into in 1998, and was scheduled to expire in 2003.  A series of amendment continued the agreement, and now this 8th Amendment to the compact extends the agreement for another 15 years, or until a new compact is signed, whichever occurs first.  The Amendment calls for the parties to begin negotiations toward a new compact upon its approval by the Secretary of Interior.

Under the terms of the 8th Amendment to the compact, the number of Class III video gambling machines the Tribe may offer was increased from 400 to 925.  Of those Class III video gambling machines, up to 1/3 may be categorized as “high stakes,” with wagers up to $50 per play, and prizes up to $5,000 per wager.  The remaining 2/3 of the Class III video gambling machines are categorized as “regular stakes,” with wagers up to $10 per play, and prizes up to $3,000 per wager.

Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Nations of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation

The State and the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council signed a state-tribal gaming compact on August 23, 2007. The compact was approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior and became effective December 10, 2007. The compact is the first gaming compact signed between the State of Montana and the Fort Belknap Indian Community Council. Under the agreement, the Tribes may have up to 400 Class III video gambling machines with a maximum wager of $5 and maximum payout of $2,000. In addition, the Tribes may conduct all other forms of gambling that are legal in Montana.

Northern Cheyenne Nation of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation

In January 2013, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and the State of Montana signed a new Class III gaming compact, which was approved by the U.S. Department of Interior on March 8, 2013. In addition to other forms of gambling that are legal in Montana, the 2013 compact allows to be operated within the Reservation up to 750 Class III machines at tribal casinos located within the Reservation and on the Tongue River Reservoir Trust Lands. The compact provides for maximum payouts of $3,000.

Salish and Kootenai Nations of the Flathead Indian Reservation

There is no Class III state-tribal gaming compact with the Flathead Indian Reservation. The last compact lapsed in 2006, after state-tribal negotiations did not result in a new compact. Currently, the Salish and Kootenai operate two Class II casinos, Kwa Taq Nuk and the Gray Wolf Peak casino.

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