NIGC Issues New Guidance on Financing Document Reviews and Declination Letters

The Nationwide Indian Gaming Fee (“NIGC”) issued steering this week for tribes and tribal lenders who submit mortgage paperwork to the NIGC for a so-called “declination letter.”  Bulletin No. 2021-4, “Submission of Loan Documents and Financing Documents for Review,” summarizes standards the company has developed within the final decade for figuring out whether or not mortgage paperwork represent “management” contracts, which below federal regulation should be permitted by the NIGC Chairman or they’re void.  The Bulletin states that whereas the Workplace of Basic Counsel will proceed to assessment mortgage paperwork and concern opinions as as to whether the paperwork present the lender with the power to handle the gaming operation, contracts that “adhere to the principles and analyses” outlined within the Bulletin would probably obtain an opinion letter that the contract doesn’t have to be submitted for approval as a administration contract.[1]

The factors and the company’s conclusions are:

  • Safety curiosity in gross gaming revenues: the pledge of a safety curiosity within the gross gaming income of a tribal gaming operation doesn’t represent management if (1) working bills are exempted from the safety curiosity; or (2) the lender is expressly prohibited from exercising administration controls utilizing what has grow to be customary “IGRA savings” language developed by the company.

  • Appointment of a receiver: the appointment of a receiver over gross gaming income might give a 3rd get together substantial administration management over a tribal gaming operation until (1) the availability offering for appointment of a receiver consists of categorical administration limitations or (2) working bills are faraway from the receiver’s authority.

  • Consent from exterior events: contracts that require consent or approval of any get together apart from the tribe previous to the tribe taking administration actions, similar to hiring or firing a administration firm, basic supervisor, or making capital expenditures, constitutes administration of the operation. A contract doesn’t grow to be a administration contract, nonetheless, if a tribe makes a administration choice that’s mirrored within the contract, such because the {qualifications} for a basic supervisor or a minimal quantity to spend on capital expenditures throughout a particular time

  • Obligatory implementation of others’ suggestions: if the contract requires the tribe to implement the suggestions of one other get together, a guide or different individuals as to its gaming operation, it constitutes administration. A tribe can agree on the outset in a contract to take particular acts or chorus from taking particular acts, together with performing or refraining from performing as a consequence of the prevalence of occasions specified within the contract.  A contract doesn’t grow to be a administration contract if it consists of particular, goal standards for the collection of consultants, workers, or auditors, and the like.

  • Insurance coverage purchases and proceeds: a contract that requires the tribal get together to buy a particular kind and quantity of insurance coverage or to interact an insurer who meets goal standards and requirements is just not a administration contract.  Contracts might present how insurance coverage proceeds can be distributed, grant a safety curiosity in insurance coverage proceeds, and allow the lender to buy insurance coverage with out changing into administration contracts.

The factors issued this week developed after a call of the U.S. Courtroom of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit through which a bond indenture was discovered to be void as an unapproved administration contract.

The company additionally issued Bulletin No. 2021-6, “Sole Proprietary Interest,” offering steering as to when a contract violates IGRA’s requirement that the tribe retain the only real proprietary curiosity in its gaming.[2]  Whereas the Workplace of Basic Counsel will proceed to assessment contracts submitted by tribes and opine as to whether or not they violate the only real proprietary curiosity requirement, contracts that “adhere to the principles and analyses” outlined within the Bulletin would probably obtain an opinion letter that the contract doesn’t violate IGRA’s sole proprietary curiosity requirement.

The factors the company makes use of to find out whether or not a tribe has the only real proprietary curiosity in its gaming operation are:

  • Time period of relationship with a 3rd get together;

  • Quantity of income paid to the third get together;

  • Proper of management offered to the third get together over the gaming exercise.

Anybody issue or a mix of the elements might represent a violation of the only real proprietary curiosity requirement.  The Bulletin supplies eight examples of violations of the requirement which embody: (1) a 3rd get together possessing a safety curiosity in a gaming operation if the curiosity provides the get together the suitable to manage within the occasion of default the operation or its working income; (2) a 3rd get together’s proper to hunt the judicial appointment of a receiver over the gaming operation or its working income; (3) a 3rd get together having management or the suitable to manage a tribe’s gaming rules; and (4) a vendor controlling gaming units in a tribe’s gaming facility.

Tribes and lenders who search a declination letter from the Workplace of the Basic Counsel as to their mortgage paperwork often request in the identical letter that the Workplace of Basic Counsel discover the mortgage paperwork don’t violate IGRA’s sole proprietary curiosity requirement.[3]

For many industrial lenders and tribal debtors, the NIGC’s latest steering comports with present follow within the tribal gaming lending trade.  Sooner or later, every financing get together might want to determine on a case-by-case foundation if a declination letter is required for a selected financing transaction.  We count on such dedication can be primarily based upon a variety of elements, together with a monetary establishment’s particular person credit score and threat evaluation, whether or not a financing transaction raises novel phrases and the extent to which authorized counsel can present ample authorized consolation that the mortgage paperwork will not be administration contracts.


[1] Bulletin No. 2021-4 at 2.

[2] 25 U.S.C. § 2710(b)(2)(A).

[3] Bulletin 2021-6 at 2.

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