NIGC General Counsel Michael Hoenig steps down; to be replaced by Esther Dittler

E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, the Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), announced Monday the departure of longtime NIGC General Counsel Michael Hoenig, effective January 27. Following Hoenig’s decision to step down, Rea Cisneros has been appointed as the acting General Counsel, and Esther Dittler will serve as an Agency acting Associate General Counsel, joining Sharon Avery.

According to the announcement, Hoenig, who first joined NIGC in 2006, departs the agency to work as Vice President and Associate General Counsel for Gaming at the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Over the past 16 years, he has taken on many roles within the Agency’s Office of General Counsel, including serving as the General Counsel for the last seven years.

The responsibilities of the Agency’s General Counsel include serving the client agency’s efforts to help tribes facilitate defensible growth and protection of “a vital industry for tribal governments’ economies while maintaining the public’s trust in the federal agency.”

Mike’s solution-driven approach helped to institutionalize a number of new practices in the General Counsel’s office. These improvements maximized the skills of legal staff and attorneys and have been important in attracting and building one of the best legal teams the Agency has ever had,” Simermeyer said.

As the agency’s longest-serving General Counsel, Hoenig led the office through critical times in Indian gaming’s history. Even before the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on the industry, he played an important role in helping NIGC to manage novel issues – recently including sports betting’s rapid expansion, the work of NIGC experts navigating Agency compliance with multiple audits, and the emergence of new cyber threats and technology uses that test the limits of NIGC’s regulatory role.

I am both excited for Mike as he pursues a new and well-deserved opportunity in Indian country. I will miss him as a leader, an important contributor to advancing the NIGC mission, and a respected voice in much of the Agency’s innovations in recent years,” Simermeyer added.

E. Sequoyah Simermeyer, Chairman of the NIGC

Hoeing expressed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of his colleagues, fellow attorneys, and NIGC staff: “It is with mixed emotions that I depart NIGC. I am sincerely grateful to have been privileged enough to get to serve with the amazing staff to advance the mission and purposes of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act – to protect Tribal gaming as one of the most important economic resources in Indian country.”

“I look forward to continuing that mission from a slightly different perspective in this new role with the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians,” Hoenig concluded.