LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL AND LEGISLATURE:
SLOT LOOK-ALIKE MACHINES IN NEW MEXICO?
The New Mexico
Coalition Against Gambling is concerned about recent technological
developments in Class II Gaming devices (i.e., video bingo
machines, and electronic pull tabs) and their approval by courts
and states. Some of
the giants of slot machine manufacture, GTECH, Sierra Design
Group, and IGT's Sodak are developing new and radically innovative
slot machines that meet many states’ statutory definitions for
The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee met recently
to consider the impact of such machines on tribal gambling.
This is a valid consideration, but they need to cast a much
wider net in their investigation. Video bingo machines can have a much wider application than
tribal gambling alone. Wyoming,
West Virginia, Utah and other states have seen social clubs and
Bingo halls introduce video Bingo machines to increase the
gambling income of the organization, and skirt legal prohibitions
against traditional slot machines.
As is quoted in the May 23, 2004 Gambling Magazine, “The
one common element to all these inventions is the drive to have
gaming devices that play like modern slot machines, without
actually being slot machines. Video bingo machines, for example,
now can display the exact same symbols as casino slot machines;
but the actual game being played must meet the legal definition of
New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling has had legal counsel look
at the New Mexico Bingo and Raffle Act to see how tight the
definitions have been drawn for the “legal definition of
bingo.” It appears that the definitions are pretty clear and
the attorney general and the legislature better have them looked
at from every angle, because it is certain that there are those
businesses and organizations in the state that would love to find
a loose clause that they could use to justify operating Class II
bingo machines at their clubs.
reasons for wanting to operate such machines are compelling.
Right now bingo halls are required to render 3% of their
revenue to the state. And getting permission for operating bingo halls from the
state is fairly easy. Non-profits
that operate Class III video slot machines have to pay the state
25%, and getting licenses to operate them is much more difficult,
and regulation is much more stringent.
state legislature better be completely certain that they have
their Bingo definitions down so tight and springy that there is no
possibility of these outfits slipping slot-look-alike Bingo
machines into their halls. Many
states were certain they knew what constituted Class III slot
machines at tribal casinos, only to find out that electronic
gambling devices that looked and played almost identical to Class
III slots would be approved as Class II gaming devices by the
while they are tightening up definitions, they ought to look at
the lottery and racetracks for future reference. Many states have morphed their paper lotteries into VLT’s,
video lottery terminals, many of which provide such games as
poker, blackjack and crazy eights.
Again, for all practical purposes, identical with
casino-style video slot machines, but technically not classified
as slot machines. Other
states allow their racetracks to operate OTB’s, off track
betting parlors, where the patrons can bet not only on the day’s
state run races and simulcasts from other states’ tracks, but
also operate slot-like machines that provide “instant races,”
betting on eight to ten races a minute.
usual, the gambling “industry” never has “enough.”
We should expect the tribes, the Bingo halls, the social
clubs, the veterans and fraternal organizations, the tracks and
the lottery to attempt to take advantage of the legal haze that
hangs over slot-like machines, and expand wherever they can get
away with it. The
state needs to prepare by tightening up its laws on electronic
gambling devices and prosecuting those that violate those laws to
the fullest extent of the law.
Guy C. Clark, executive director
New Mexico Coalition Against Gambling