Status of Situs Judi Online Gambling Laws in the U.S.
October 5, 2021
UNITED STATES – Interior Secretary Gale Norton told Congress she needs time to decide whether to implement regulations proposed by former Secretary Bruce Babbitt, which would give this federal official power to approve tribal casinos over a state’s objections. Florida and Alabama had sued Babbitt, and bills to explicitly give or to take away the secretary’s power have failed to pass both houses. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission has come and gone and been forgotten; its Final Report was filled with factual errors. One bill (Kyl) to prohibit Internet gambling, with many exemptions for state-licensed gaming, passed the Senate & another (Goodlatte) passed House committees, but both failed to get two-thirds majority in the House. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled federal laws against casino broadcast commercials were unconstitutional; state prohibitions may still be valid. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has so far stopped bills to outlaw legal sports betting.
* ALABAMA – The Seminole case began when the Poarch Band of Creek Indians sued the state because the Governor refused to negotiate for casinos. The U.S. Supreme Court: 1) ruled a state could not be sued without its consent, but 2) refused to decide whether the Secretary of the Interior could make the gaming regulations, leaving tribes and states in limbo. The tribe is operating gaming devices in a bingo hall, while the court fights continue. The state allows slot-like machines in kiddie arcades. Dog tracks and adult arcades have put in machines which pay out coupons. A state judge ruled and Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor opined these are illegal slots; suits are pending. A federal judge has cleared the way for authorities to ban video arcades in Jefferson County. A proposal to give the state’s four moribund dog tracks true video poker machines has been reintroduced, but appears to be dead. Gov. Fob James, Jr. (R) opposed a State Lottery and lost reelection to Don Siegelman (D) in Nov. 1998. But an unprecedented mobilization of religious organizations throughout the country defeated a constitutional amendment to allow a State Lottery at the polls in Oct. 1999.
ALASKA – Casinos are prohibited by state law. Proposals to allow cruise ship gaming and the Klawock band of Tlingit Indians to open a full casino on remote Prince of Wales Island have gone nowhere.
* ARIZONA – In July 2001, federal Judge Robert C. Broomfield issued a 121-page opinion, agreeing with the state’s three racetracks that the Legislature unlawfully gave the Governor a “blank check” to sign future compacts, and that the state does not allow blackjack, keno or slots. He ordered Gov. Jane Hull not to enter into any new compacts. (Gov. Hull and the state’s 17 gaming tribes were renegotiating, looking at a cap of 14,675 slots statewide and a 7% revenue sharing with the state.) Former governors signed compacts for casinos with slots (which remain open while the case is on appeal) because an Attorney General had ruled charities may run casino games. Judge Broomfield is wrong, mainly because the voters approved a standard form tribal compact. Former-Gov. Symington signed compacts with 16 tribes, but, misreading the federal Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Rumsey, refused to sign any more. In Nov. 1996, voters approved the “Fairness Initiative,” requiring the state to negotiate compacts with the remaining five tribes — the first time in American history a state voted to allow new high-stakes casinos in the face of active opposition. In 2000, the Legislature authorized the governor to renegotiate the compacts (they begin to expire in 2003), but imposed requirements, including that compacts must: set guidelines on ATMs and credit card use; require Situs Judi Online casinos to post the Arizona Lottery’s problem gambling hotline number; prohibit advertising to minors; and establish a voluntary self-ban procedure for problem gamblers. The Legislature and Governor also approved raising the gambling age from 18 to 21 for all wagers, including tribal casinos.
ARKANSAS – A bill to allow Internet bets on races has cleared a Senate committee. A proposal to amend the state constitution to allow a State Lottery was introduced in Jan. 2001. On Nov. 7, 2000, voters defeated, 65% to 35%, an initiative for widespread casinos, charity raffles and bingo and a State Lottery. Similar competing constitutional amendments had been tried in 1990, 1994, 1996 and 1999. Some gathered enough signatures, but the State Supreme Court found all but one other initiative misleading. That one lost 62% to 31% in Nov. 1999, due to the state’s active religious organizations and opposition from Mississippi’s casinos.
!* CALIFORNIA – In Aug. 1999, the State Supreme Court, quoting my 1986 book, Gambling and the Law, ruled Prop. 5 violated the state constitution’s ban on Nevada- and New Jersey-style casinos. The governor, legislature and tribes put another proposal together, Prop. 1A, approved overwhelmingly by the voters on March 7, 2000. Tribes now have a monopoly on full casinos written into the constitution. (An initiative to bring in commercial casinos is gathering signatures, but will fail at the polls.) The accompanying compact, approved by the federal government in May 2000 allows each tribe to have two casinos and up to 2,000 slot machines, subject to an incomprehensible formula capping the state total at either 43,000 or 113,000. Amazingly, Gov. Gray Davis failed to send a representative when tribes allocated slot machines to themselves, so the state did not know which tribes had slot machines, let alone how many there were. Pres. Clinton signed a bill in Dec. 2000 with the “Miller amendment,” a misleadingly labeled “Technical Correction,” which allows the landless Lytton Band of Pomo Indians to turn the San Pablo card club into an urban casino near San Francisco. Card clubs, race tracks and charity bingo parlors, afraid of tribes opening more casinos in urban areas, filed a lawsuit, which will probably be dismissed for failing to join indispensable parties – the tribes, which cannot be sued without their consent. Approximately 45 casinos now take in more than $2 billion a year; they can renegotiate for more slots in two years and can demand Internet lotteries now. California will soon be second only to Nevada in casino revenue. Attendance at race tracks is falling; Golden Gate Fields dropped 40% in ten years. Legislation created a gaming control commission in 1997, but Gov. Davis took three years to make his appointments. In 2001, Gov. Davis signed a bill to let residents make bets and tracks take bets on horse races by phone and Internet.
!* COLORADO – The 43 $5-maximum bet casinos with blackjack, poker and slot machines in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek brought in $631.8 million in 2000, and there were two more on Indian reservations. Widespread gray market video gaming devices pay off, when police aren’t around. The casinos came in through a constitutional amendment in 1990, but voters overwhelmingly rejected adding new towns and slot machines in airports in 1992, 1994 and 1996. Gov. Romer vetoed legislation to add gaming machines to dog and horse tracks in 1997.
!* CONNECTICUT – State and federal officials are investigating allegations in the book Without Reservation, which challenges the federal recognition of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, owners of Foxwoods, the largest, most profitable casino in the world. Then-Gov. Weicker signed compacts giving an oligopoly on slots to the Pequots and later to the Mohegans for 25% of net slot win or $80 million each, whichever is greater. So far, the state has received more than $1 billion. The compacts lack any limits, so both casinos keep growing. Foxwoods has a 315,310 square-foot casino with 370 table games, keno, poker tables, race book, high-stakes bingo and 5,944 slot machines. The two Indian casinos will win more than $1.5 billion this year, making them the third largest casino market in the U.S. Five more tribes are close to getting federal approval. Legal gambling has surpassed corporate income tax to become the third largest source of revenue in the state budget, behind the personal income tax and the sales tax. Connecticut’s last jai alai fronton is closing in Dec. 2001; Hartford closed in 1995 and Bridgeport fronton was converted to a dog track.
* DELAWARE – A 1994 law allowed each of the state’s three racetracks to have up to 1,000 slot-machine-like video lottery terminals (VLTs). “Racinos” opened over the 1996 New Year’s Eve weekend. The Legislature keeps raising the number of permitted machines. Delaware Park and Dover Downs each have the state’s present limit of 2,000, Harrington has 1,151. Racinos have been good for the tracks: Large purses have made Harrington (Midway) a national leader in harness races. Three-quarters of the Lottery’s revenue now comes from VLTs. The Legislature is considering a bill legalizing riverboat casinos.
FLORIDA – Following the Seminole decision, the tribe asked Babbitt for casino regulations. Suits have been filed, but the tribe is expanding its four bingo halls/casinos with video gaming devices, without compacts or regulations. A $17 million casino initiative lost big in 1994. The State Supreme Court will decide whether casinos violate the State Constitution; if not, proponents still have to gather a half million signatures to get on the 2002 ballot. In March 1999, a House committee approved, 8-0, electronic slots at tracks and jai-alai frontons. But claims that this would open the door to full casinos killed the proposal. A ballot initiative to allow counties to have referenda on slots at horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons has gathered enough signatures to be sent to the State Supreme Court; if cleared, it will need more signatures to make the Nov. 2002 ballot. At least 22 casino ships operate cruises-to-nowhere out of Florida’s ports. Recent court decisions could allow the state or even local governments to put the ships out of business, though an anti-gaming bill aimed at cruise-to-nowhere operators was defeated in Aug. 2000.
GEORGIA – Gov. Roy Barnes signed legislation requiring that all video poker machines, which were not supposed to give cash payouts, be removed from all public places by Jan. 1, 2002. Three gaming ships were sailing into international waters (three miles out) for day-trips-to-nowhere, but may be sunk by state law. Georgia’s State Lottery is a model for the rest of the country. The state also has charity bingo and raffles. The Kialegees in Oklahoma want to return to their traditional land and open a casino. This will not happen, because the Governor and Secretary of Interior would have to approve.
HAWAII – All gambling is outlawed, but each year dozens of bills are introduced to legalize casinos or a State Lottery. A proposal for the state’s employee retirement system and Office of Hawaiian Affairs to own a casino in Las Vegas aroused strong opposition. The Legislature may eventually approve casinos on cruise ships. In Dec. 2000, Congress amended the Johnson Act to prohibit casinos on “a voyage or a segment of a voyage that begins and ends in the State of Hawaii.”
* IDAHO – The state constitution was amended in 1992 to specifically prohibit casino games with one target in mind: Indian casinos. Now the tribes are fighting back, with a proposed initiative. In March 2001, the State Legislature refused to ratify Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s compacts with three tribes, meaning a federal court will decide whether gaming machines are allowed. (My prediction: The court will rule video pull-tabs are forbidden slot machines.) The State Senate also passed an emergency bill, requiring legislative approval of any new compacts. Some tribes are operating gaming devices anyway, without compacts. The Coeur d’Alenes, after losing court battles, closed their Internet lottery. The tribe now has a 65,000 square foot non-casino casino, with bingo, 1,400 (soon to be 1,700) gaming machines (allegedly Class II Video Pull-Tabs), blackjack played with lottery cards, and mechanical horse races. Bars in Treasure Valley began removing gaming devices in May 2001, after an adverse court ruling.
!* ILLINOIS – All nine operating riverboat casinos ceased sailing within 24 hours of Gov. Ryan signing a bill eliminating the requirement that riverboats actually cruise. Gaming revenue increased dramatically and some boats will soon be replaced with much larger boats-in-a-moat. The casino tax rate, 30.9%, is the highest in the nation, but gubernatorial candidate Paul Vallas wants it raised to 45%. The state’s troubled racing industry gets 15% of the casinos’ adjusted gross revenue ($1.7 billion in 2000). “Phantom voyages” continue, but the Legislature may let the boats keep their doors open all the time. Cook County can now have a boat-in-a-moat casino. Rosemont has been chosen, a short drive from O’Hare Airport. The constitution was amended in 1990 to allow the Legislature to authorize up to ten riverboat casinos, each with a maximum of 1,200 gaming positions. There is constant political pressure to expand, especially with 3,500 gaming positions authorized but unused. A state senator has proposed slots at O’Hare and VLTs in bars. The House passed a bill in March 2001 outlawing campaign contributions from casinos and racetracks.
!* INDIANA – Legislative leaders may approve a voter referendum, over the opposition of Gov. Bob Taft, to let seven of Ohio’s horse racing tracks install video gaming machines. Earlier, the Senate Rules Committee killed a bill, approved by the House, which would have allowed riverboats to operate casinos while docked, and would also have authorized electronic pull-tab machines (slot machines which cash out with paper tickets) at Hoosier Park racetrack and its OTBs. Riverboat casinos opened in 1995, after the State Supreme Court held the law constitutional. The Legislature authorized 11, but the federal government will not allow a boat on Patoka Lake. The ten riverboat casinos took in $1.7 billion in 2000. Boats on the Ohio River can only move a few feet, for fear of trespassing into Kentucky. Riverboat admission charges help subsidize the state’s horse racing industry. The Pokagon band of Potawatomi Indians is trying to open a land-based casino in north-central Indiana, and Indiana Legislative Insight reports the Miami Indians have a “fairly low-key effort” to put a casino in western Indiana. A study released in 1999 found gambling, including the heavily-taxed casinos, are the state’s fifth largest source of revenue. The Senate voted to allow candidates to accept contributions from casino owners, but the House of Representatives killed it by a 2 to 1 vote.
!* IOWA – Slots are legal at one horse and two dog tracks, in three Indian casinos and on ten riverboat casinos — gambling is the state’s fourth largest source of income. Racinos pay a 30% tax, which is set to rise to 36%; riverboat casinos pay 20%. Gross gaming revenue is close to $1 billion a year. The Racing and Gaming Commission passed regulations which prohibited casinos from expanding, banned credit card cash advances and barred new licenses. Gov. Vilsack fired most of the Commissioners for going beyond the authority delegated them by the Legislature. But the Senate and House could not agree on what changes should be made, so the governor let the regulations stand. Suit was filed to keep the ATMs, and a court ruled the Commission had exceeded its authority. Rules are being promulgated to allow ATMs in non-gaming areas. The Senate killed a proposal for a five-year moratorium, which would have been like money from heaven for existing operators. Only the State Lottery, not charities, can sell pull-tabs.
!* KANSAS – A bill to allow VLTs at dog and horse tracks will be reintroduced, again. Tribes operate four casinos, under compacts, at White Cloud, Mayetta, Horton and Powhattan. Although the compacts were reported to exclude electronic gaming devices, tribal casinos have slots and video poker machines, as well as table games. The Delaware Tribe, forcibly removed to Oklahoma around 1868 but with no reservation, wants to move back to Lawrence and open a casino. In a highly questionable move, the U.S. Dept. of Interior approved a casino for the Miami Tribe, despite vocal opposition from Gov. Graves. The state has filed suit. Camptown Greyhound Park closed, again; but if slots for tracks is approved by the 2002 legislature, it may reopen. In Summer 2000, Greyhound Park in Wichita opened a drive-through betting window. The Legislature is expected to renew the State Lottery in 2001, which would otherwise expire in 2002.
KENTUCKY – Gov. Patton has proposed, but not endorsed, that the state own, but not operate, up to 14 small-scale casinos on its borders, on a local-option basis. A state-commissioned independent study instead recommended eight casinos near major cities. The Legislature is considering VLTs and casino gaming to save the state’s racetracks, facing competition from neighboring states’ riverboat casinos. A constitutional amendment is unlikely, requiring three-fifths of both houses of the Legislative and then a statewide referendum, because opposition from churches is growing. Kentucky charity bingo is bucking the national trend by growing despite competition from nearby casinos.
!* LOUISIANA – Former Gov. Edwin Edwards was convicted of racketeering for manipulating riverboat casino licenses — I was designated an expert witness by the U.S. Dept. of Justice. On April 1, 2001, cruising not only ended, it became illegal for riverboats to leave their docks. In 2000 the State Legislature legalized telephone bets for races at the New Orleans Fair Grounds. Harrahs opened the first permanent casino in the heart of a large American city in New Orleans in Oct. 1999, four years after its temporary casino went bankrupt; it declared bankruptcy again in Jan. 2001, blaming the $100 million minimum state tax. The Legislature has eliminated “phantom cruises” (raising gangplanks on boats that don’t move) overruling the Gaming Control Board, but raised taxes from 18.5% to 21.5%. More than 25 million visitors spent $1.8 billion at Harrahs and on 14 riverboat casinos in 2000. The Legislature is considering eliminating the 15th license presently allowed. Some State Senators want to tax the state’s three tribal casinos (the state cannot tax a tribe). The Chitimacha Tribe has a new compact without the illegal 6% tax to local governments; instead the tribe is voluntarily funding a $10.5 million community grant, which coincidentally, equals the 6% it paid before. In questionable local elections in Nov. 1996, 31 parishes voted to keep video poker machines, 33 parishes voted them out. The problem: A state law prohibiting the video poker industry from pooling resources by forming PACs was declared unconstitutional only 17 days before the vote. The U.S. Supreme Court agreed. But state and federal courts have upheld the results anyway. More than 4,800 gaming devices were shut down, leaving about 15,000. Three more tracks are trying to get around the two-thirds vote requirement and add slots; Delta Downs wants 1,200. Truck stops now are limited to 50 machines, and they have to sell gasoline! A Senate Committee has approved raising the maximum bet to $20 on video poker machines in bars, restaurants, hotels and truck stops. The State Supreme Court upheld legislation raising the gambling age from 18 to 21.
MAINE – Charities can offer limited dice and card games, including blackjack. Some, illegally, also have video poker. A bill has been entered to make the machines legal. On Nov. 7, 2000 voters decided not to allow up to 1,500 video lottery machines at Scarborough Downs racetrack. A federal court ruled the Maine Land Settlement Act preempts IGRA, so, the state will not be forced to negotiate for Indian casinos. The State Senate defeated a bill which would have allowed the Passamaquoddy Tribe to run high-stakes bingo. A legislative attempt to put video gaming devices at the state’s tracks faces a veto by Gov. King.
MARYLAND – Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. established a special committee to study gaming, saying it is inevitable, but chose an opponent of gambling as the head. Gov. Parris N. Glendening remains rabidly anti-gaming, but he leaves office at the end of 2002. Gov. Glendening appointed a prior task force, which voted unanimously against casinos. Tracks gave up their drive to get slots, for $10 million in increased purses. A statute allows phone wagers and tracks want implementing regulations; the real goal: Internet betting.
MASSACHUSETTS – The Legislature saved the state’s four horse and dog tracks by allowing them to take bets on races around the country. On Nov. 7, 2000, voters rejected a proposal to end dog racing. The state’s horse and dog tracks need slots to survive, but they will not get them this session. Casino proposals keep popping up, but go nowhere; in June 2001 the Senate killed a bill for up to three casinos. Atty. Gen. Reilly is a leading opponent. Gov. Cellucci says he will negotiate only Class II gaming with the Wampanoag Indians. In 1997 the Legislature killed a deal between then-Gov. Weld and the tribe for a casino in New Bedford, rather than on their inaccessible reservation. A court has upheld the right of local government to regulate or prohibit cruises to nowhere. To save charity bingo, the limit on progressive jackpots was raised from $500 to $3,000.
!* MICHIGAN – In Nov. 1996, voters approved three casinos for Detroit, despite the strong opposition of Gov. John Engler – the first time in American history that citizens of a state voted to allow new high-stakes commercial casinos in the face of active opposition. On July 29, 1999, Detroit became the largest city in the U.S. to have a land-based casino, the MGM Grand’s $235 million “temporary” facility with 75,000 square feet of gaming, 2,300 slots and 80 table games. Detroit’s three casinos take in almost $1 billion a year: MGM Grand and Motorcity about $29 million a month, and Greektown about $22 million. The state currently has 11 tribal compacts and 17 casinos. A trial judge ruled the compacts void, because the Legislature approved them by resolution, not by bill. A bill to prohibit casino ATMs is pending. The state’s racetracks say they need slot machines to survive. Charity bingo revenue is down 26% in six years; so, the Legislature approved progressive jackpots. The limits on “Millionaire Parties,” casino nights, were raised from a $2,000 prize limit to total chip sales of $15,000. A new statute appears to make Internet gambling illegal, but actually legalizes online wagering conducted by state licensed operators.
!* MINNESOTA – Eighteen Indian casinos (more than in Atlantic City) with slots. The Legislature will consider proposals, which will go nowhere, to legalize sports betting (in violation of federal law) and open state-owned casinos, including one for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, limited to airline passengers, and another to have a state-tribe casino in the metropolitan Twin City area. The first state-licensed card club opened April 19, 2000 at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, doubling the track’s net income, even though it is in direct competition with the Indian-owned Mystic Lake Casino. The Legislature refused to allow a casino constitutional amendment on the ballot, so the 38 tables (50 maximum under the law) offer only poker and player-banked games like pai gow poker — no blackjack or slots. Maximum opening bets $30, raises $60. Bar games, particularly charity pull-tabs, are very big: about $1.5 billion in sales in 1999.
!* MISSISSIPPI – State law allows an unlimited number of dockside and riverboat casinos; there are now approximately 30. Mississippi has become the third largest (non-Indian) casino state, with gross gaming revenue of $2.7 billion in 2000, about 80% from more than 35,000 slot machines. The US Census found Mississippi led the country in revenue growth and job creation between 1992 and 1997. A tribal casino, the Silver Star, has made the Choctaws a powerful political force. The State Supreme Court ruled that race and sports books are still illegal, despite provisions in the Gaming Control Act specifically allowing “sports pools.” It also threw out the third attempt by casino opponents, led by Elizabeth Stoner, to ban gaming by initiative. A new regulation allows casino employees to play everything but progressive slots. The State Supreme Court reiterated that amusement machines which dispense valuable coupons by chance, upon the insertion of a coin, are illegal slot machines.
!* MISSOURI – There are now eleven casinos, with gross gaming revenue of $1 billion a year. It took four elections to make casinos legal. In early 1994, the State Supreme Court nearly destroyed the state’s new riverboat casino industry by limiting boats to games with some skill. The Nov. 1994 election amended the state constitution to allow slot machines, keno, bingo and other games of pure chance. The Court then ruled casinos must be on a river (Station Casino agreed to pay a $75,000 fine for using city tap water for its “river”). The voters amended their constitution once again, to make boats-in-a-moat legal. The industry is trying, again, to lift the $500 limit on gambling losses. This time it has the support of the Missouri Gaming Commission. Gov. Carnahan gave the $500 limit as his reason for vetoing a “Chuck E. Cheese” bill, which would have allowed amusement games with noncash prizes up to $250. The casino tax rate, 29.5&, is the second highest in the nation, just behind Illinois. A bill in Congress would bar Indian casinos from Branson. An initiative to allow fraternal and charitable groups to have slots is gathering signatures.
* MONTANA – An “anti” has launched an initiative to prohibit video gambling machines. A plan for slots in historic buildings was quickly killed. Religious activists failed in their attempt to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the Nov. 2000 ballot, which would have outlawed all gambling. They needed only 39,724 signatures, but they could not get even half that number. Tribes were in a quandary, because some believed they alone would have been allowed to continue. At present the state has more than 16,000 video gaming machines, in more than 1,600 premises; interestingly, more video keno than video poker; up to 20 devices per location; maximum wager – $2; maximum payout – $800. Six tribes have compacts, allowing each to have 100 video gambling machines with $1,000 payouts, but no banking card games; two other tribes have not signed. State law allows a dozen forms of gambling, including card clubs, sports pools, Calcutta pools and fantasy sports leagues.
!* NEBRASKA – Sen. DiAnna Schimek has introduced a bill to put a state constitutional amendment on the 2002 ballot allowing casino gambling on Indian reservations. The Santee Sioux’s lawsuit against the state was dismissed following Seminole. The tribe opened a casino anyway. A U.S. trial judge ordered the tribe to pay a $6,000/day fine — the tribe pulled its pull-tab machines in June 2001, after the fines totaled $4.6 million. Casino initiatives did not make the Nov. 1996 ballot, because many signatures were from people who were dead.
!* NEVADA – The Legislature and Governor gave the Gaming Control Board power to decide whether Nevada licensees can open Internet casinos. The tax would be 6.25% (same as real casinos) plus a fee of $1 million for two years. A bill to create a State Lottery, with tickets sold only in casinos, failed. But Las Vegas casinos introduced a keno-lottery game with progressive jackpots, despite lotteries being prohibited by the state constitution. Casinos can now open private salons for high-rollers. The Board promulgated regulations against kiddie-themed slots. One of the first to pass, with restrictions, was IGT’s “Addams Family” slots. A bill has been introduced to require casinos to pay slot jackpots, even when the symbols lined up due to a malfunction. In a P.R. move, the state lifted the ban on betting on local sports teams. Regulators have proposed putting a $550 cap on bets on college sports; there are 150+ licensed sports books. Federal Judge Philip Pro and the State Supreme Court ruled unpaid casino markers are checks under Nevada’s criminal bad checks law. In 2000, casinos won $9.6 billion, more than $5 billion from slot machines. For the first time anywhere in Nevada, gaming brought in less than half of total revenue on the Las Vegas Strip. There are approximately 200,000 slots in the state; most are in the approximately 243 casinos. The Nevada Gaming Commission now limits new “restricted licenses” (15 slots machines maximum) to convenience stores, supermarkets, drugstores and bars. State Sen. Joe Neal failed to raise the gross gaming tax on the largest casinos from 6.25%, the lowest in the country.
NEW HAMPSHIRE – The Legislature will once again consider putting slots at the state’s four racetracks (if not at two grand hotels) in its 2002 session. Gov. Jeanne Shaheen is in favor of video gaming devices to help solve the state’s education funding problem. In 2001, proposals for two state-owned casinos and 1,000 slots in the state’s 10 state-owned liquor stores and 5,000 slots in its four (three dog, one horse) racetracks were introduced, following a temporary ban on gambling bills. State law allows video poker machines, but only if they do not pay off. Getting caught gambling became a felony on Jan. 1, 2000; so, social clubs are turning in their supposedly non-gaming devices. Cities will also lose: Manchester was getting $1,500 per license for 344 video poker machines.
!* NEW JERSEY – The 12 casinos in Atlantic City win more than $4.2 billion a year, making them the largest gaming market in the U.S., just ahead of the Las Vegas strip. The State Lottery would like to put in video lottery terminals statewide. Given the casinos’ political power, the proposal seems doubtful. Acting Gov. Donald T. DiFrancesco signed two bills in Aug. 2001 allowing at-home accounting wagering at up to 15 OTBs; then-Gov. Whitman had vetoed a similar bill. A new state law prohibits cruises to nowhere. Electronic pull-tabs, closely resembling traditional slot machines, may soon be appearing in social clubs and fraternal societies. Gary DiBartolomeo resigned as President of Caesars Atlantic City amidst charges he lied to the Casino Control Commission about his compulsive gambling.
!* NEW MEXICO – Gov. Gary Johnson, elected and reelected with the help of major tribal contributions, signed compacts for casinos, which were declared illegal. In 1977, the Legislature passed the Gaming Control Act, approved new compacts, but imposed a high (16%) fee. To get the bill through, fraternal organizations, charities and the state’s four racetracks got slots too (Sunland Park opened with 300 slots in March 1999). The tracks are taxed at 25% and have to turn over another 20% of net slot revenues for racing purses. Not a single tribe has paid 100%. Atty. Gen. Madrid filed suit in June 2000. In March 2001, a compromise was reached with 11 of 13 tribes with a lower revenue sharing rate (3%-8%); but the suits continue. The Legislature also lowered the tax rate on non-profits, from 25% to 10%, and increased the number of slots a track may have to 600 (750 if the track obtains another track’s allocation). In 2001, Gov. Johnson earmarked $50,000 to create regulations for pari-mutuel betting on bicycle racing. Atty. Gen. Madrid opined it is illegal under federal law. In Nov. 2000, voters in Gallup’s McKinley County rejected casino and racetrack gambling 55% to 45%.
!* NEW YORK – The state needs to raise money after the Sept. 11th attacks, so the Legislature turned to gambling, including six more tribal casinos, and VLTs at selected racetracks. The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe quickly signed an agreement with Park Place Entertainment Corp. to build and operate a $500 million casino and resort complex in the Catskills. The legislation probably violates the State Constitution, because it allows slots, and federal law, because it taxes the tribes at 25%. Gov. George Pataki signed compacts creating tribal casinos without slots, including the fantastically successful Oneida’s Turning Stone. (If Mexico legalizes casinos, the Oneidas plan to develop and manage them in Acapulco and Mazatlan.) A state trial court ruled the compacts illegal, because the Governor signed without the Legislature’s authorization. But Gov. Pataki then signed a compact with the Seneca Nation for tribal casinos in Niagara Falls and Buffalo. Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer doesn’t believe the casinos will have to close. Sen. Hillary Clinton demonstrated during the campaign that she hasn’t a clue about Indian gaming. A state trial judge caused a stir by declaring an “Internet site creates a virtual casino within the user’s computer terminal” and may be dragged into New York. Interesting, but irrelevant: this operator was a New York company! A trial court decision allows New York City to license casino day-trips-to-nowhere. The Off-Track Betting Corp. announced plans to set up the first state-sponsored Internet betting site, but the Legislature balked.
!* NORTH CAROLINA – State law allows video poker, but only up to three machines per location with a maximum payout of $10 in merchandise per session. Larger, illegal, payoffs are commonly reported. The Legislature passed a law increasing penalties for violators, banning the importation of new video poker machines and prohibiting children from playing. In 1994, the Governor signed a compact allowing the Cherokees to offer video gaming at one bingo hall. A state Court of Appeals decision raises questions about the legality of video poker, but the tribe is continuing to operate its 2,300 machines. The House approved, 91-11, a bill to virtually outlaw casino cruises-to-nowhere from the North Carolina coast. In July 2001, the state Supreme Court ruled present state law only banned gambling equipment in a fixed location, so casino boats on state waters and even trains would be legal.
!* NORTH DAKOTA – Charity blackjack in hotels and four Indian casinos with slots; Spirit Lake has 500 slots, blackjack, craps, poker, bingo and keno. On Aug.1 2001, charitable gaming organizations were permitted to raise the betting limit for blackjack from $5 to $25. The increase was to allow them to compete with tribal casinos, after the tribal limits were raised from $50 to $250. In 1996, a proposal for video gaming was defeated at the polls. A State Lottery is dead: voters rejected it in 1986 — one of only four states to do so this century — and in 2001 the House soundly rejected putting the issue on the ballot again.
OHIO – The Legislature is considering legalizing 1,500 State Lottery operated VLTs (video poker and slots) at seven racetracks, or possibly letting it go to the voters. Gov. Bob Taft is opposed. An Internet bingo game for charity, limited to in-state players, opened in November, 2001. In 1996, a riverboat casino initiative was defeated 62% to 38%. Casino bills and initiatives have been attempted every other year for decades and always failed.
OKLAHOMA – Twenty-three of Oklahoma’s 39 federally recognized tribes have a form of gaming; the Chickasaw Nation alone has 10 locations. Some tribes offer “blackjack tournaments” where players supposedly compete against each other. But a federal judge denied a tribe’s request for electronic games similar to slot machines at its casino near Norman. The Absentee Shawnee Tribe and the Seminole Nation have filed suit to get slots (which are illegal in Oklahoma). A bill to allow gaming machines at the state’s four tracks is pending. In Feb. 1998, voters resoundingly defeated a casino initiative, after the sponsor withdrew. In 1996, voters failed to approve a State Lottery: Gov. David Walters’ pro-lottery forces had been far out-spent by horse-racing interests. The Legislature won’t approve a second attempt. A federal Court of Appeals ordered the state to negotiate for tribal Class III gambling, but the case was dismissed following the U.S. Supreme Court Seminole decision. The Quapaw Tribe is said to have the largest all-electronic bingo hall in North America, 800 seats, in Miami, Oklahoma, according to e-BingoNews.
!* OREGON – The State Lottery, which runs almost 8,900 video poker machines, maximum of five per location, wants to add regular slot machines. It has the power, but Gov. John Kitzhaber is an opponent of legal gambling. The state constitution prohibits casinos. The State Supreme Court ruled a store with non-gaming business and only five gaming devices is not a “casino.” But the state has entered into compacts giving its tribes full casinos. Anti-gaming forces, led by the Rev. Tom Grey, failed to collect enough signatures to get a referendum on the Nov. 2000 general election ballot to outlaw video poker. Charities can run casino nights. The State Lottery takes bets on professional sports events. A Marion County judge dismissed a lawsuit in 2001 challenging the 1984 ballot measure that created the Oregon Lottery, because there is a 10 year statute of limitations.
PENNSYLVANIA – The Legislature has the power to legalize riverboat casinos or slots at tracks, but politically it has to be approved by the voters, as new Gov. Mark Schweiker made clear, when he took office in 2001. Bills are pending to allow up to 2,000 slots at each of the state’s four racetracks.
* RHODE ISLAND – Lincoln Greyhound Park will probably soon have coin-drop slots, which eliminates the final distinction between “VLTs” and slot machines. The state runs 1,628 VLTs at Newport Grand Jai Alai and Lincoln. The Lottery Commission voted 5-4 to give them 850 more, to compete with Connecticut’s tribal casinos. Lincoln alone will soon have 1,550. In July 2000, the State Supreme Court overruled Gov. Almond’s objections, finding the Legislature could delegate its power to a commission. The Lottery Commission will meet in Nov. 2001 to consider the addition of 1,825 video-slot machines to the two sites. A heated dispute over a potential (non-IGRA) Indian casino is raging. Sen. Chaffee pushed a bill through the U.S. Senate requiring statewide voter approval, but the Legislature seems opposed to putting it on the ballot. In June 1999, the Narragansett Tribe won 2 to 1 in economically depressed West Warwick.
SOUTH CAROLINA – The state’s 14 year experiment with video poker ended at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, 2000. A month later, the State Supreme Court held a law preventing the now nonexistent slot machines from advertising was unconstitutional. At its height, South Carolina had 34,000 devices (Nevada has only 17,922 slots outside of casinos) and attracted more than $2.1 billion in wagers, for $610 million profits. Voters in 30 of 46 counties approved cash payouts in 1996. The Legislature had passed a bill closing down the slots unless approved at a Nov. 1999 referendum. In Oct. 2000, the State Supreme Court threw out the referendum but upheld the shutdown. A judge ruled that it is now illegal to manufacture slot machines chassis in the state. In July 1999, the U.S. 4th Circuit ruled state laws apply to cruises-to-nowhere. In summer 2001, the State Supreme Court ruled casino cruises legal, but Atty.Gen. Charlie Condon issued opinions that slots used legally on casino boats violate state law when stored on South Carolina soil or used on it rivers. Bills to kill the casino ships have passed the House but get killed in the Senate. Even local laws apply. In Sept. 2001, Horry County Council supervisors rejected a proposal that would have put a one-year moratorium on new casino boat launching points or support facilities. Jim Hodges beat Republican incumbent Gov. David Beasley in Nov. 1998, by supporting a State Lottery and by not opposing video poker. In Nov. 2000, voters approved amending the constitution to allow a State Lottery, but the Legislature did not pass an enabling law until Sept. 2001.
!* SOUTH DAKOTA – Another big defeat for the “antis” in Nov. 2000. Voters decided, again, to keep video lottery machines, 54% to 46%, the same as in 1994. In 2001 a House committee voted to not let opponents have a third attempt. Voters also approved, 52% to 48%, raising bet limits from $5 to $100 in the 40 casinos in Deadwood (gross gaming revenue of only $52 million), which will also raise the limits in the state’s 10 tribal casinos. The higher limit doubled monthly gaming revenues. A similar proposal lost in 1993. The State Lottery’s 7,959 VLTs were declared unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court in June 1994, but voters reinstated the gaming devices by amending the state constitution in the Nov. 1994 election. In May 2001, the State Fair Commission banned VLTs from state fairgrounds.
TENNESSEE – The State Legislature approved a bill to block casino gambling; casinos would require a constitutional amendment in any case. Longtime gambling foe Gov. Sundquist looked like he might have been coming around, but politically this kills the idea. The Legislature also approved letting voters decide whether they want to amend the constitution in Nov. 2002 to allow a State Lottery.
TEXAS – A federal judge ruled the Tiguas must close their Speaking Rock casino in El Paso by Nov. 30, 2001, because Congress made the tribe subject to Texas state laws in 1987, when it gave the tribe federal recognition. The decision would likely prevent another tribe, the Alabama-Coushatta, from opening a casino. Acting Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff killed a bill that would have let the state’s three tribes have casinos. The Kickapoos (the third tribe) lost a case over gaming devices. A Texas Atty. Gen. ruled the Legislature could not authorize commercial casinos without a constitutional amendment. George W. Bush was unsuccessful as governor in trying to kill eight-liners — the Senate even voted to let the slots give bingo card prizes at bingo halls and parimutuel betting tickets at tracks. In July 1999, Lone Star Park joined tracks in California, Kansas and Kentucky in allowing drive-through betting windows.
UTAH – In Feb. 2001, the State Legislature killed a bill that would have required State Lottery advertisements to boldly display the words “void in Utah.”
VERMONT – A bill to allow casinos on railroads didn’t leave the station. A racetrack in the southern part of the state is campaigning hard for slot machines and a bill to allow full casinos is pending.
VIRGINIA – In 1994, a riverboat casino bill sank under the weight of excess baggage, when Disney’s proposed historic theme park got tacked on. The bills were reintroduced in 1995, for the third time, and were again defeated. Recent proposals to bring race tracks to northern Virginia were attacked by state legislators as “gambling parlors masquerading as legitimate businesses.”
!* WASHINGTON – Twenty tribes have casinos, without true slots. (IGRA grandfathered-in one with true slots.) The tribes sued the state, but the Ninth Circuit dismissed the suit after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Seminole decision. Voters turned down proposals for tribal slots in 1995 and 1996. But the tribes now have slot-like video lottery and linked bingo machines. In an attempt to level the playing field, the Legislature allowed privately owned cardrooms to have house-banked blackjack. There are now more than 40 mini-casinos; Gov. Locke supports bills to limit their growth.
* WEST VIRGINIA – Gov. Bob Wise succeeded in his campaign to legalize and tax video poker machines. A federal judge recently dismissed a challenge, saying the suit should be brought in state court. There are now 13,500 gray market machines. On Jan. 1, 2002, there should be about 9,000 legal slots at the state’s four tracks (2 greyhound and 2 thoroughbred — maximum bet raised from $2 to $5), bars, clubs, restaurants and fraternal organizations. Outlawed are slots at gas stations, grocery and convenience stores. Showboat sued to exercise its option over Charles Town Racetrack, contending coin-drop video slot machines turns the track into a casino. Greenbrier County voters rejected the unique “Limited Gaming Facility Act” on Nov. 7, 2000, so Greenbrier Resort will not have a casino open only to registered overnight guests of the hotel. The law prevents any newly-built track from having gaming devices. Jefferson County voted in Nov. 1996 to permit VLTs at Charles Town Races; the voters had turned the track down in 1994. Former Gov. Underwood let a bill become law without his signature, allowing VLTs to accept coins. Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort would like to have telephone account wagering.
!* WISCONSIN – Dairyland Greyhound Park (opened 1990, handle down 50% since tribes opened casinos) is suing Gov. Scott McCallum, claiming a 1993 law bars any compact renewals. Gov. McCallum is blocking three Chippewa bands from opening a 1,500 slot machine casino at the bankrupt St. Croix Meadows greyhound racing track, despite approval by the BIA. He said 17 casinos (all with slots, most also have blackjack) and 16,000 games of chance are enough. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson would not renew the compact with the Oneidas after the tribe failed to pay the state $4.85 million in gambling profits; the tribe questioned how the state had been spending the money. The original compacts began expiring in 1998, but were mostly renewed when tribes agreed to raise the gambling age to 21 and the state’s share from $400,000 to $20 million a year. On Jan 5, 2000 Thompson signed a law lowering the punishment for a tavern caught with five or fewer video gambling machines to a $500 fine; a bill to completely legalize the machines is pending. In Nov. 2000, voters in Beloit approved while those in La Crosse County rejected non-binding referendums for tribal casinos.
WYOMING – An initiative to allow full casinos was defeated 2 to 1 in Nov. 1994. State law allows limited sports betting. The Arapahos have filed suit against the state in federal court to get a compact and the state has asked the Wyoming Supreme Court for an opinion.
AMERICAN SAMOA – Proposals for a land-based casino and cruise ship gaming have been considered by the Legislature.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – A riverboat casino initiative failed to get enough legitimate signatures: Of 45,000 signatures gathered, fewer than 15,000 were from voters. “Monte Carlo” nights for charities are a growing concern.
!* COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANAS – Casinos with slots are legal on Tinian.
* GUAM – Gaming devices are legal. In Nov. 1996, an initiative to allow full casinos to compete with those on the nearby Northern Marianas was defeated at the polls.
!* PUERTO RICO – Commonwealth-licensed full casinos with a strange twist: The government used to own the slot machines. A movement to privatize developed in 1996.
!* VIRGIN ISLANDS – Local voters approved the concept of legalized casinos in a non-binding referendum in Nov. 1994. The Legislature agreed, and the first licensed land-based casino opened in St. Croix in April 2000. The Legislature recently voted to allow cruise ships calling in St. Thomas to keep their casinos open while in port, provided the ship remains docked beyond 6:00 p.m. The Senate passed a Video Lottery bill in July 2001, which could permit gaming devices throughout the islands. It will be the first U.S. jurisdiction to issue licenses for Internet gambling web sites.