5/3/10 – US Indian gambling may soon have a new chief, following the nomination by President Obama of Tracie Stevens to head the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Stevens, a member of the Washington state Tulalip bandis presently an adviser to assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior, Larry EchoHawk.
Joe Valandra, a former chief of staff for a previous NIGC head, says that, if appointed, Stevens could prove to be a “breath of fresh air” because she is not a lawyer. He added that Indian gaming is entering a new era, and that perhaps requires a fresh approach.
The nomination has to be approved by the US Senate Indian Affairs Committee, which could be the setting for an intriguing debate, given the interest which a number of tribes are currently showing in online gambling (see previous InfoPowa reports) and the complicated and generally negative nature of the American legislative approach to internet gambling.
Stevens, who holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, has hands-on casino experience, having worked at the Tulalip tribe’s casino, initially as a business and administration manager and later as an executive director responsible for strategic planning.
In a news release on the nomination, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised Stevens, saying that the President was confident that she would provide “strong leadership to the commission as it deals with the many complex issues associated with Indian gaming.”
Subject to her confirmation by the Senate, Stevens will succeed George Skibine, who has been serving as acting chairman.