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Casino revenue in Oklahoma lagging behind

Updated:
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Revenue from tribal casinos is lower than state officials predicted but they say it's too soon to say whether initial projections were too high.

Eighteen American Indian tribes paid Oklahoma $880,391 for card games and compacted electronic gambling machines, a decline of 16 percent from the $1,048,015 tribes paid last month for games played in July, figures released Monday show.

The state of Oklahoma has received $4,951,206 for the calendar year.

At that rate, the state will receive about $12 million this fiscal year, but state Treasurer Scott Meacham had projected $40.5 million.

Meacham cited vendors slowness to deliver the compacted gaming machines and tribes not installing those machines as reasons for a lag in revenues.

Federal law allows tribal casinos to offer Class II games, which must be based on bingo or pull-tabs. Class III games, which include slot machines, unrestricted card games, roulette and keno, require a compact between a tribe and a state.

Oklahoma's compacts allow for certain faster machines and card games in which the casino can't profit from the outcome.

Most tribes were concerned that federal regulators would crack down on Class II games being played throughout Oklahoma, so they signed the compacts. That threat never developed, however, and Meacham said the lack of compacted machines reflects that.

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said Oklahoma has a unique market.

``You can't just take a game played in Nevada and put it in Oklahoma,'' he said. ``They (game manufacturers) had to create a machine just for Oklahoma.''

Miller's tribe plans to install 450 compacted machines in its Catoosa casino next month, and 100 more total in its other casinos.

Meacham said officials aren't in a place where the compacts have reached maturity.

``Until we get to a point where the (new) games are readily available to the tribes ... we won't know,'' he said.
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