The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), founded in 1988, is a non-profit organization comprised of federally-recognized tribal governments. CNIGA is dedicated to the purpose of protecting Indian gaming on federally-recognized Indian lands. It acts as a planning and coordinating agency for legislative, policy, legal and communications efforts on behalf of its members and serves as an industry forum for information and resources.
As stated in the CNIGA Articles of Incorporation, the specific purposes of the organization are to promote, protect and preserve the general welfare and interests of Indian tribes through the development of sound policies and practices with respect to the conduct of gaming activities in Indian country, to assist Indian tribes and the federal government by providing technical assistance relating to the Indian gaming industry wherever such assistance may benefit the common interests of the association members and the Indian gaming community generally, to disseminate information to the Indian gaming community, the federal and state governments and the general public on issues related to the conduct of gaming in Indian country, to preserve and protect the integrity of gaming conducted in Indian country and to maintain, protect and advocate Indian tribal sovereignty.
In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the inherent right of Indian tribes to offer gaming on tribal lands (California v. Cabazon). The following year Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA") which created the statutory framework for tribal governments to engage in gaming as a means of promoting tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments (Please see History of Tribal Gaming in CA for additional information). The IGRA requires Indian nations to negotiate with states concerning gaming to be played (scope of games), and regulation (level of regulation) while it ensures that tribal governments are the sole owners and primary beneficiaries of Indian gaming, and legislatively recognizes tribal gaming as a way of promoting economic development for tribes.
On September 10, 1999, fifty-eight (58) tribal governments signed tribal-state gaming compacts with the state of California. Since September, three additional tribes have signed tribal-state gaming compacts bring the total number of compacts in California to sixty-one (61). Included in the compacts are provisions for revenue sharing with non-gaming tribes, environmental protections, and labor agreements. As a result, California Indian tribes, once impoverished and dependent on government subsidies, are finding prosperity and self-sufficiency through tribal gaming.