What are per capita payments?

What are per capita payments?

Jerrad Moore/Broadcast Specialist

Casino profits regulated by federal government

OKMULGEE, Okla. — Much of the revenue utilized by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation government is from casino operations.

Profits from the MCN casinos fund many programs and services provided to citizens, but it is also possible for the net profits from these operations to be distributed to Muscogee (Creek) citizens directly. This is known as per capita distribution.

How does per capita distribution work, and what are the requirements for a tribe to conduct such distributions?

In 1988 the U.S. Congress passed the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. This Act contains the regulations under which all Native American casinos operate and established the National Indian Gaming Commission.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has issued regulations regarding per capita distributions of Native American casino profits.

Per capita payments are defined by these regulations as, ‘the distribution of money or other thing of value to all members of the tribe, or to identified groups of members, which is paid directly from the net revenues of any tribal gaming activity. This definition does not apply to payments which have been set aside by the tribe for special purposes or programs, such as payments made for social welfare, medical assistance, education, housing or other similar, specifically identified needs.’

According to these regulations, Native American tribes are not required to make per capita distributions under IGRA, and if they elect not to, the tribes can still use the profits to fund tribal government operations or programs, provide for the general welfare of the tribe and its members, promote economic development and donate to charitable organizations or local government agencies.

DOI regulations require that if a tribe does make per capita distributions, the tribe must submit a tribal revenue allocation plan to the secretary of the interior for approval.

This allocation plan must include reserving adequate funding for tribal government, as well as tribal economic development, donations to charitable organizations and local government.

In addition, the tribal revenue allocation plan must include information and criteria for accounting of disbursements as well as dispute resolution and utilization or creation of a tribal court system.

Per capita distributions can be made to only an identified group of members, instead of all members of a tribe, but this must be justified and not violate federal or tribal law.

For more information regarding these regulations or per capita distribution, contact the DOI Office of Indian Gaming at: (202) 219-4066, or visit the NIGC website.

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