2014.09.26

More Trouble with CNE Comps

:  Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission Director Jamie Hummingbird. Photo TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission Director Jamie Hummingbird. Photo TESINA JACKSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX

Recently, this website highlighted a Cherokee Phoenix article that exposed some problems about complimentary items at the Casinos. In that post several weeks ago, the concern was that CNE was not providing reports on comps in a timely manner, now it appears there are issues of comps reported incorrectly, data transferred inaccurately, and a missing $10,000 comp.

Complimentary services are those things given free of charge. They can be free beverages, food, hotel rooms, limo rides, gifts, and concert tickets. They can be given out by CNE employees or by Cherokee Nation officials.

From the Phoenix article (in the sidebar), it appears there is a mix up concerning how these “free things” are reported. Some are reported as “manual comps” and some are reported as “internal administrative expenses.” The difference between the two is that “manual comps” are used in promotions or given to loyal customers and “Internal administrative expenses” fall under the expenses of an administrative function.

The Cherokee Nation Gaming Commission’s Internal Auditor also said some employees had been granted incorrect system permissions for comping privileges.

CNB CEO Shawn Slaton responded that it was just a matter of using the right forms and said they make “every effort to meet and comply with CNGC regulations and reporting timelines.”

Unless you’re an accountant, this may not mean much, but there’s more. As this specific issue could be resolved by using the correct forms, this article also points out an unresolved issue of a missing $10,000 comp. Yes, it appears complimentary services go as high as $10,000.

Apparently, this $10,000 comp was issued and has somehow gone missing. CNE said such a comp was never issued, but when the Internal Auditor showed them CNE’s own report of it, CNE still could not find who issued it or if it was redeemed. The Gaming Commission Director, Jamie Hummingbird, in response to a question from a CNGC board commissioner, indicated the $10,000 could have been spent.

So, was it issued? Was it spent? Who issued it? No one seems to know for sure.

A third issue pointed out in the article concerns the transfer of CNE data into spreadsheet reports for auditors. The Internal Auditor said the data columns are mixed up and “we’re running into some big problems of inaccurate data.”

Although this situation seems to focus on employee comps, in the past months administrative and tribal council comps have also received attention. A lawsuit is still pending against Chief Baker’s Administration to get copies of these types of comps (see “The Transparency Lawsuits” in sidebar). Also, these comps came up as an issue when the Tribal Council reduced the Gaming Commission’s authority (see “Limiting Gaming Commission’s Power” in sidebar).

Again, this may just be a matter of accounting procedures, but there does appear to be a number of issues popping up this year around these “free things.”

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