The Rainmaker statue at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in Mashantucket, Connecticut. Photo by Mark Brenan

Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation clashes with state over 'bingo' machines

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the state of Connecticut are in a disagreement over the status of new gaming machines.

The tribe plans to put 100 "Live-Call Bingo” machines into play at the Foxwoods Resort Casino, The Connecticut Mirror reports. As the name suggests, the devices are an electronic variation of bingo, a Class II game.

As such, the machines can't be regulated by the state, according to the tribe. But the state believes otherwise and the game is on hold while the parties resolve the matter.

“We’re working with the state on an incredible partnership, in fact expanding our wonderful partnership that goes back 25 years,” Chairman Rodney Butler told The Mirror. “We would never put that in jeopardy.”

If the state gets its way, the tribe would be required to share revenues from the machines as part of its Class III arrangement. But if the tribe prevails, the games can't be touched by the state.

Class II versus Class III classifications were a major issue during the Bush era as tribes added innovative devices to their facilities in states where governors refused to negotiate agreements. Even though tribes and gaming companies won decision after decision in the courts, the National Indian Gaming Commission, then under the control of Republican appointees, proposed rule changes that would have resulted in more games falling into the Class III category, thus limiting tribal options.

As more and more states have come to the table, such disagreements are uncommon. There are still instances in which tribes are adding Class II machines to their casinos in order to avoid sharing revenues with states but states usually don't object.

The NIGC still issues game classification opinions but the last one that was posted on the agency's website dates to June 2014.

The Bush administration ended up withdrawing the controversial Class II versus Class III regulation amid outcry from tribes.

Read More on the Story:
State, Foxwoods scuffle over tax status of new gaming machines (The Connecticut Mirror November 17, 2017)

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