Indian Gaming

Indian Gaming

Indian gaming is tightly regulated at the federal, state, and tribal levels. In fact, it is regulated at more levels than any other form of gaming in the country. The enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988 set the framework that governs Indian gaming to this day, and provided a procedure for Indian tribes and states to use in determining how gaming is regulated on tribal lands.

IGRA requires the establishment of an independent regulatory authority to be charged with oversight and enforcement of gaming regulatory matters. The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe established the Gaming Regulatory Authority (GRA) with the power and duty to regulate Gaming matters for the Band.


Prior to 1987, there was much conflict between Indian tribes and states regarding who held jurisdictional authority over gaming activity on Indian reservations.

In 1987, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Indian tribes have inherent sovereign powers to regulate gaming on their own lands. The court also held that a state has no power to interfere with any form of Indian gaming unless all such gaming is criminally prohibited in that state. Many states approached Congress after this decision, seeking federal law to provide for some state input into Indian gaming. The result was the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) in 1988.

IGRA is the jurisdictional framework that governs Indian gaming. Its original purpose was to permit Indian gaming as a way of promoting economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments.

Regulation of Indian gaming occurs at three levels:

It begins at the tribal level with the Tribal Regulatory Authority.
It is defined by an arms-length agreement called a compact between each tribe and the state. The State of Minnesota (Department of Public Safety and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) is responsible for regulation in accordance with the compacts.
It is conducted by the following agencies listed under federal oversight:

National Indian Gaming Commission
U.S. Department of the Interior (Bureau of Indian Affairs)
U.S. Department of Justice (Federal Bureau of Investigation)
U.S. Department of the Treasury (Internal Revenue Service)
IGRA established a procedure for tribes and states to negotiate agreements called compacts. These compacts determine how certain types of gaming are regulated on Indian lands.

IGRA states that:

States are not allowed to tax Indian gaming facilities.
Gaming is only allowed on tribal lands.

Indian Gaming In Minnesota

Under IGRA, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe negotiated two compacts with the State of Minnesota governing blackjack and video games of chance. These compacts allow state background investigations of gaming employees and inspections of gaming facilities.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is charged with ensuring that the games played at the state’s tribal casinos are conducted in compliance with the standards set forth in the compacts. The Band contributes money each year to the Department of Public Safety to offset the state’s gaming regulatory costs.

The Band operates two casinos — Grand Casino Mille Lacs, which opened in 1991, and Grand Casino Hinckley, which opened in 1992 — in full compliance with IGRA and the compacts.

All Associates are subject to comprehensive background checks and are issued licenses that demonstrate that they are in compliance with the Band’s Gaming Regulatory Act, the applicable federal regulations, and the compacts with the State of Minnesota.

When Minnesota law changed in 2001 to allow poker at Canterbury Park, the law also enabled tribal casinos to legally begin poker operations. Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley began offering poker in 2004.

In Minnesota, a compact can be renegotiated only if the state and the particular tribe both agree to the change(s). It cannot be altered by one party alone.

The compacts are intended to provide consistency and stability for the tribes and the state in determining future gaming policy.

Gaming represents the first effective economic development tool that many American Indian tribes have had in centuries. The Mille Lacs Band uses its casino revenues to improve life for its members and neighbors in East Central Minnesota.

Gaming Regulatory Authority

The Mille Lacs Band Gaming Regulatory Authority (GRA) is an independent regulatory agency of tribal government established to separate the government’s regulatory function from the management function. The purpose of the GRA is to ensure that all gaming activities on Mille Lacs Band land are carried out in compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Title 15 of the Mille Lacs Band statutes, tribal and state compacts, the GRA’s Detailed Gaming Regulations (DGR), and all other applicable laws.

Our Mission Statement:
Dedicated to providing protection, value, and regulatory excellence in gaming for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

The next GRA Board meeting is Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 9:00AM at Grand Casino Hinckley.

Request for GRA Board Review

Request to appear before the GRA Board

Gaming Regulations and Resolutions

Gaming Licenses for Casino Employment
320-532-8253 Mille Lacs
320-384-4742 Hinckley
Call or Text. Contact the Gaming Regulatory Authority if you have questions about your gaming license eligibility. Talk to our dedicated staff about your criminal history charges, waiver opportunities, or requesting a review of a previous gaming license suspension, denial, or revocation.

Casino Exclusions
Call or Text. Contact the Gaming Regulatory Authority if you have questions about your Exclusion from Mille Lacs Band Gaming Enterprises. Any person who has been placed on the Exclusion List may annually petition the GRA for his or her name to be removed from the List.

Fraud Hotline
Call or Text. Anonymously contact the Gaming Regulatory Authority to report various types of FRAUD, including theft, scam, cheating or suspicious activity at Grand Casinos. Please include as much detail as possible in your tip (i.e., who, what, when, where, why, and how).

Problem Gaming Hotline
800-333-4673 (HOPE)
A phone call to the Minnesota Problem Gambling Helpline could change someone's life. Available 24 hours a day and seven days a week, the helpline offers free, confidential help from counselors trained in crisis intervention.


Susan Klapel

Michelle Pomerleau
Vice Chairperson

Michael Davis

Megan Ballinger
Board Member

Board Member


700 Grand Avenue
Onamia, MN 56359

Fax: 320-532-8533
Phone: 320-532-8196
Gaming Regulatory Contacts


777 Lady Luck Drive
Hinckley, MN 55037

Fax: 320-384-4813
Phone: 320-532-8196
Gaming Regulatory Contacts