Class II Gaming machines
The simple answer is that the politicians say it should be so, and although the three classes of Indian gaming were established under IGRA, today there are really only two classes that Washington cares about: Class II and Class III.
Class I, intended to regulate gaming associated with tribal ceremonial or celebration-related events, like at pow wows, where tribes have been playing gambling games—often between associated tribes or family groups—for centuries, is seen by D.C. as small potatoes. Going up the ladder of federal attention, Class II encompasses bingo and games associated with it, such as pull-tabs, which are often sold in bingo halls by sponsoring charities, and non–banking card games like poker. Class III, the big attention-getter because it’s the biggest revenue-generator, includes everything else—horse racing, lotteries and what are commonly known as casino games, such as banking-card games like baccarat and blackjack, roulette, craps and slot machines. These are generally the most lucrative games for a casino.
As more tribes build casinos, mastering (or manipulating) the intricacies of the law—and political interpretations of the classes it created—has become akin to finding pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. When the Seminole Tribe of Florida was embroiled in a long battle with the state to get a Class III contract until it finally won one in 2010, it was able to game the system, if you will—inventing and investing in technology that enabled the tribe to offer new ways to play Class II games. In fact, the tribe’s entire Hard Rock group of casinos was populated by such games and continued until early 2010, when the tribe was finally able to secure a true compact from that state so they could have traditional slots.
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