Michael Hoptowit Resigns as General Manager of Yakama Casino

On April 4th, 2009, Michael Hoptowit, the general manager of the Yakama Nation casino located in central Washington has resigned from his position amid questions over whether the Yakama tribe can legally distribute money from casino revenues to tribal members.

Casino spokesperson Dale Drury said that Hoptowit’s resignation was due to a dispute he had with the gaming commission but that he also wants to pursue other endeavors elsewhere. Drury said that it is just unfortunate that all this happened at the same time but he
believes that Hoptowit will easily move forward. Tribal officials have been dealing with a request to award each individual in the 10,000 member tribe a one-time payment of $1,400 from casino profits.

Yakama members each received a one-time payment of $2,000 in December but some tribal officials wondered whether it is allowed because the tribe lacks a federally approved plan to allow it to give tribal members a part of the casino profits. Casino spokesperson Dale Drury said that investigators with the National Indian Gaming Commission in Washington, D.C. visited the casino facility not long after the money was given out.

The federal commission and Hoptowit refused to comment on the matter. Hoptowit started at the casino facility as floor gaming supervisor just months after it opened in 1998 and worked his way up to casino general manager in 2003. He is not an enrolled Yakama tribe member.

The casino facility has more than one thousand slot machines, a poker room, blackjack tables and roulette tables. Based on the total amount given to local police and fire departments and nonprofit organizations, the casino earned more than $69.4 million from casino table games and 671 slot machines in 2005.