Proposed National Indian Gaming Commission rules to reclassify some Class II bingo machines as Class III slot machines “are a solution in search of a problem,” says U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma). “They will cripple economic development in Indian Country, not promote it.”
Cole made his observation at a field hearing he and U.S. Rep. Dan Boren (D-Oklahoma) held in Miami, Oklahoma. More than half of the 42,000 gaming machines Oklahoma tribes run at 90 sites are bingo devices.
Gaming officials told the congressmen that reclassification could cost their tribes millions of dollars. Like others across the United States, they could lose bingo revenue with slower games NIGC wants, or be required to share Class III revenue under state gaming compacts.
Some tribes said their consultations with NIGC over the new rules have been casual and shallow. Boren passed the complaints to NIGC Commissioner Norman DesRosiers at the hearing.
DesRosiers acknowledged knowing of no Oklahoma tribes that favor the proposed rules. He disagreed that they would wreck Class II play. “We don’t think we’re regulating Class II machines out of existence,” he said.