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Federal Proposal will change Class II Gaming

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February 11, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY - The National Indian Gaming Commission has proposed a new regulation to redefine the differences between Class II and Class III games. Class II games are based on bingo and Class III are Las Vegas-style slot machines.

Industry experts say the new regulation will make nearly all the existing Class II machines illegal in 2013. Oklahoma has over 30,000 Class II machines, which is about 59% of the nation.

If casinos replace with Class III machines, there will be a major tax impact. Currently tribes pay nothing to the state for Class II gaming. However, Class III revenues are shared with the state. Last year tribes paid $54.5 million from Class III machine revenues. Economist Alan Meister estimates this will increase to $122.3 million a year if the NIGC regulation is enacted.

Native American tribes across the country have denounced the plan.

Representative Dan Boren, D-Okla, wrote the commission stating, "I remain deeply concerned that there has not been sufficient consideration of the economic impacts of these proposed regulation."

Representative Tom Cole, R-Okla., also wrote the commission asking for an extension of time for submission of comments. Both Boren and Cole are members of the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees Indian gaming.

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