A little-noticed National Indian Gaming Commission denial of one-touch gaming devices as Class II machines for Alaska’s Metlakatla Indian Community could reach far through the rest of the U.S. tribal gaming business, some tribes are worrying.
The one-touch game amounts to a facsimile game of chance, NIGC Chairman Philip N. Hogen told Metlakatla. “This game is therefore Class III and cannot be operated without a compact,” he said. Metlakatla has no state gaming compact, so it is entitled to no higher than Class II gaming under federal law.
The June 4 Metlakatla decision came the day before Hogen announced that NIGC was “putting aside” proposed rules to distinguish Class II bingo devices and Class III slot machines. The rules need a deep cost-benefit analysis, he said, after many tribes complained they could lose millions if their machines were re-classed.
Now Class II tribes say it will make vendors loath to risk their licenses by providing one-touches, leaving the Class II business “decimated by a de facto manufacturer’s embargo on one-touch machines and their operational systems.”
Some add that NIGC’s decision will slash the “entertainment value” of some machines now being run as Class II. That could drive off players in areas where supposedly more appealing Class III slots are available.