Oklahoma tribal gamers’ “exclusivity payments” to the state for advanced bingo machines covered by state gaming compacts reached .4 million in 2007. The increase from .5 million the year before and .2 million in 2005 shows that the covered casinos are installing more of the fast-playing “faux Class III” machines even as others worry that federal officials may reclassify some Class II bingo devices as Class III.
Payments climbed monthly last year, too. “If payments go up, it means more tribes are converting to compact games,” says State Treasurer Scott Meacham. He estimates that total payments would climb past $100 million if Class II games are reclassified, a troubling prospect for many state casino operators that run non-compact Class II games almost exclusively.
Oklahoma gaming compacts that some three dozen tribes have signed since they became available for Class III gaming after voter approval in 2004 do not cover “Las Vegas-style” slot machines. Instead they allow slot-like advanced electronic bingo games tribes agreed to have included because “there have been disagreements between tribes and federal regulators as to whether or not such games are Class II,” the compacts say.