In April, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed H.B. 3375 into law, a bill that will change the state’s gambling landscape. This new law will allow the state’s tribal casinos to begin offering ‘ball-and-dice’ games, like craps and roulette; gaming options that were prohibited in the past.
The change reportedly suits the state, teachers and the tribe, as it will provide substantial revenues for education, while also helping tribal venues earn more. Cherokee Nation Entertainment Chief Operating Officer, Mark Fulton, commented in the Tahlequah Daily Press, saying that “all parties appear to be winners,” with the passage of the bill. Fulton further stated:
“It’s something the customers are demanding, it will obviously provide some incremental revenue back to the tribes via their casino operations, and then the state and teachers are getting additional funding, as well. I think it’s one of those opportunities that came to fruition where all parties actually truly benefit from it.”
The tribes that operate casinos in the state currently pay exclusivity fees based on the Class III games they provide courtesy of the tribal-state compact. For the 2017 fiscal year, close to $134 million was provided by the tribes. The fees paid are then distributed to the General Revenue Fund, the Education Reform Revolving Fund, as well as the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Games similar to roulette and craps are offered today at Cherokee casinos but they are not played in the standard format. The games are card-based and absent are the dice and roulette wheel found in the traditional offerings. According to Fulton, the traditional form of the games will be installed in the casinos that already offer table games. This will include the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa, Roland and West Siloam Springs.
Tribes will have to wait a total of 90 days from the day the bill was signed in order for the new law to take effect before moving forward with such games. Cherokee Nation gaming commission director, Jamie Hummingbird, reportedly stated that he is working to ensure that regulations are in place prior to H.B. 3375 becoming law.