A Step Towards Resolution: North Dakota Settles Gambling Complaint With DOJ

Written By Janice Doughtrey

In a consequential episode within the gambling landscape, North Dakota has come to a settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over a gambling complaint that has lingered for over two years. The complaint, raised by DOJ, underscored a lack of compliance with the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) by the state.

The thrust of the issue pertains to the distribution of gambling proceeds. Under IGRA, tribal governments should be the sole beneficiaries of gambling revenues. The profits must go toward the tribal government’s operations and programs that benefit their communities. However, the DOJ had asserted that North Dakota was breaching these provisions.

Consequently, the state was accused of illegally diverting funds meant for tribal governments. This diversion, allegedly, has been channeled to charities far removed from the tribal reservations – a direct violation of IGRA’s provisions.

After drawn-out discussions, the state of North Dakota has agreed to comply with federal laws and alter the manner in which it distributes funds garnered from gaming operations. According to the settlement, the state must now ensure that tribal governments are the exclusive beneficiaries of the proceeds, falling in line with the stipulations of IGRA.

North Dakota’s Attorney General, Drew Wrigley, expressed optimism about the resolution. He underscored the state’s commitment to upholding the integrity of the gambling sector and its dedication to maintaining positive and productive relationships with tribal nations. He noted that the state government’s priority is ensuring all parties are treated fairly under the law.

Despite the settlement, there is an understanding that this chapter is far from conclusively closed. As the ink dries on the agreement, the coming months will reveal the impact of the state’s renewed commitment to IGRA’s provisions.


The resolution of North Dakota’s gambling complaint has brought about an essential turning point in the state’s gambling landscape. The agreement, signed off by the Department of Justice, promises to rectify a longstanding point of contention within the state’s gambling sector.

From the outset, the tribal-centric provisions of the IGRA stand as a guarantee for tribal governments to foster growth and development within their communities through the proceeds derived from gaming activities. Therefore, the alleged diversion of these funds punctuates a stark deviation from these stipulations. As such, the resolution brings a much-needed alignment of state practices with federal law.

However, while the settlement signifies a major step forward, it is only the starting point of a journey toward ensuring comprehensive compliance. The state of North Dakota now faces the considerable task of implementing the terms of the agreement, which will entail revisiting existing procedures and instituting changes where necessary. It will be a test of commitment and, above all, an exercise in restoring trust.

For the tribal communities, the settlement could represent a new chapter in their relationship with the state government. The anticipated realignment of funds could see the bolstering of community programs and the enhancement of governmental operations. It’s a change that, when implemented, would reflect the true spirit of the IGRA.

In closing, the case of North Dakota serves as a case study in negotiation, commitment, and the pursuit of fair dealings within the gambling sector. It’s a story still being written, with more chapters to unfold, but with the promise of a resolution that may set a precedent for others to follow.