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Federal government retreats from tribal bingo regulation

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June 5, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - The National Indian Gaming Commission today backed off two controversial portions of a four-part package of proposed Class II gaming regulations. It will drop its plan to create a system for game classification, and its plan to modify the definition of "facsimiles of any game of chance." It will only consider technical standards and minimum internal control standards for Class II gaming.

The commission proposed last year to further define differences between Class II and Class III gaming machines. The result would be to redefine many Class II machines as Class III. The proposal evoked immediate and angry opposition from tribes, especially those without slot machines that rely exclusively on electronic bingo for revenue.

The basic difference between the two classes has been Class III machines, which includes slot machines, allows a gambler interact only with the machine, whereas Class II machines, which includes video bingo, allows gamblers to play each other over a network. Slot machines are more lucrative and are subject to approval, limited numbers of machines, and revenue sharing under state-tribe compacts. Class II video bingo is not.

Among the tribes which would have been heavily impacted by the reclassification of Class II gaming machines are the following:

  Cherokee Nation 4,400 Class II machines
  Osage Nation 3,000 Class II machines
  Muscogee (Creek) Nation 3,270 Class II machines

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