Gambling machines get reprieve

Saturday, June 22nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The National Indian Gaming Commission should not fine or close any Indian casinos until the trial judge can determine whether a disputed game is legal, a magistrate judge recommended Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Sam Joyner also recommended that U.S. District Judge James H. Payne allow the Choctaws, Chickasaws and Cherokees to intervene in a lawsuit the disputed game's maker has filed against the commission.

Earlier this week, Joyner temporarily blocked the commission from punishing casinos that offer MegaNanza, a game the tribes liken to legal bingo but the commission now classifies with Las Vegas-style gambling.

Friday's recommendation is that Payne issue a preliminary injunction on punishments that would last until he could resolve the dispute by ruling on the game's legality.

The recommendation marked a victory for the tribes and game maker Multimedia Games Inc., which have sought both Joyner's temporary order and the injunction.

The gaming commission recently changed MegaNanza's classification from Class II, which includes bingo, to Class III, the category including slot machines, cards and dice games. The latter is generally illegal in Oklahoma.