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State Regulations On Indian Casinos

Dear Mark,
I have never been quite able to understand why certain Indian casinos
have full-fledged gambling, while others have what amounts to nothing
more than a bingo hall. One that I was in recently said they were not
allowed to have slots; yet, you could play bingo on a slot machine.
What gives? Then there are other Indian casinos that have gambling just
like what you would find in, say, Reno, Nevada. I'm confused? Jack M.

Broadly speaking, without regard to specific details or exceptions,
who's got what, where and why, depends on the specific type of compact each tribe negotiated with the state, and what class of gaming that tribe is allowed to provide. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, enacted in 1988 as Public Law 100 497, provides the jurisdictional framework that presently governs all forms of Indian gaming. The Act establishes three classes of games, each having their own regulatory scheme.

Class I gaming is defined as traditional Indian gaming and social games
for minimal prizes. Regulatory authority over Class I gaming is
exclusively vested with the tribes, not the state or federal
government. One example of such a game would be Women's Gambling Dice -
Sierra Miwok Style, once played in the Yosemite Valley. Traditionally,
a female-only game, it is played with six black walnut half shells,
filled with pine resin and charcoal, and ten counter sticks. The object
of the game is to win all the counter sticks onto one side. The walnut
shells are used as dice and the gambling could consist of play-by-play
betting, or end-of-game results.
Who says women don't know nuttin' 'bout craps?

Where you played, Jack, offered only Class II gaming, defined as the
game of chance commonly known as bingo. If played in the same location
as the bingo, instant bingo, punch board, pull tabs and other games
similar to bingo are also allowed. Class II gaming can also include
non-banked card games. Non-banked games are played exclusively
player-vs-player, and not against the house or against any player
acting as a bank. The Act explicitly excludes slot machines, or
electronic facsimiles of any of the class II games; hence no one-armed
bandits.

Tribes retain the authority to conduct, regulate and license class II
gaming, as long as the state in which the Tribe is located permits such
gaming for any other purpose. So, if for example Our Lady of Guadalupe
in Billings, MT offers a bingo night, then all Montana tribes are
allowed to have all forms of bingo, including those bingo slots that
you described.

Class III gaming, often referred to a casino-style gaming, is
wide-ranging and includes casino games such as slot machines, black
jack, craps, roulette, poker, etc.

Before a Tribe is allowed access to your wallet, the following
conditions must be met: (1) The Tribe must negotiate a compact with the
state and the compact must be approved by the Secretary of the
Interior; (2) The particular form of class III gaming that the Tribe
wants to conduct must be permitted in the state in which the tribe is
located; (3) The Tribe has to adopt a Tribal gaming ordinance that has
been approved by the Chairman of the State's Gaming Commission.

As to your question regarding bingo slots, yep, Jack, they are
recognized by Uncle Sam as Class II gaming devices, because electronic,
computer, or other technological aids used in connection with bingo are
allowed. One such company, Rocket Gaming, headquartered in Miami, OK,
provides Class II bingo slots to approximately 55 Native American
gaming facilities in 13 states. Specializing in wide-area linked
progressives, their machines are played in real time, with players
competing against each other for major progressive jackpots.

True, Jack, they look and feel like typical slot machines, but
technically they're not.


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More Columns By Mark Pilarski
Have a question? Ask Mark pilarski@markpilarski.com

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