Posted by Prairie Knights Casino and Resort on Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tribes take a hit as gamblers in North Dakota turn to electronic pull tabs

At least two tribes have seen a decline in gaming revenues now that non-Indian pull tab operations are up and running in North Dakota.

The Spirit Lake Nation has seen revenues fall by 40 percent since the first electronic pull tab machines launched in August 2018, Collette Brown, the executive director of the tribe’s gaming commission, told The Associated Press. The tribe runs the Spirit Lake Casino and Resort in Saint Michael.

“It’s a big hit for us. We’re feeling it,” Brown told the AP of the new operations. “There is no reason to go to the casino now.”

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe tells a similar story, although Chairman Mike Faith didn't put a percentage figure on the impact of the new electronic machines. The tribe operates the Prairie Knights Casino and Lodge in Fort Yates.

“It’s having a negative impact and if they state continues to allow it, it will have an even bigger impact in the future,” Faith told the AP.

Chairman Mark Fox of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation told the AP that it was too early to tell whether his tribe's gaming enterprise has been affected by the new machines.

According to figures obtained by the AP, electronic pull tabs took in more than $410.5 million in the first nine months of operation. Nearly 2,000 machines are in operation across the state, in about 80 percent of cities and towns, the AP reported.

Pull tabs of the paper variety are usually considered Class II games under federal law. They typically fall in the same category as bingo and electronic forms of bingo.

North Dakota law defines electronic pull tabs as games of chance, which would seemingly include Class II games. However, "electronic facsimiles of any game of chance" are considered Class III games under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Class III games can only be operated under an agreement between a tribe and a state. The most recent Class III gaming compacts in North Dakota cover "electronic games of chance with video facsimile displays," which would seem to include electronic pull tabs

The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, the Spirit Lake Nation and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe all signed the agreements, which were negotiated before state lawmakers authorized electronic pull tabs in 2017.

Quarterly reports for non-Indian gaming are available from the North Dakota attorney general's office for the quarters ending March 2019, December 2018 and September 2018. The September report contains the first figures from the electronic pull tab machines.

Read More on the Story
Electronic pulltabs' popularity soars in North Dakota (The Associated Press September 15, 2019)
Official credits electronic pull tabs for increased tax revenues in North Dakota (Forum News Service July 5, 2019)

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