Proposed Class II rules get mixed reception at G2E
Class II gaming, and the National Indian Gaming Commission's (NIGC) proposed new rules on the classification of Class II electronic games, were the dominant topics of Global Gaming Expo's (G2E) Indian gaming sessions.
Nelson Westrin, vice chairman of the NIGC, participated in several sessions at the conference dedicated to that topic. Also weighing in on the NIGC's proposed Class II rules were NIGC Chairman Phil Hogen and Commissioner Chuck Choney.
"I think reaction from the tribes [to the proposed Class II rules] has been mixed," said Westrin during a telephone interview after the show. "Everybody understands there's a need to clarify any ambiguity or confusion about what is a permissible Class II technologic aid as opposed to a Class III electronic facsimile, which can only be utilized in a compact. There's a mixed reaction because there's concern that there be an accurate and fair drawing of the lines between the two and that tribes not be prevented from using what Congress intended in terms of technology relative to bingo and pull-tabs and other Class II games."
Westrin and the other NIGC officials continually emphasized during the conference that the commission is still in a working process and that commissioners have not specified what the eventual standards for Class II electronic machines would be. Instead, a draft of those standards was presented at G2E for comment. It was, Westrin said, the commission's third draft of the document.
"We presented it at the show and requested review and comment not only from the industry, but also sent it out to all of the gaming tribes," Westrin said. "We asked for their review and comment so that the tribes and the industry would have early input in the formulation of the standard which would eventually be proposed as a rule."
He added that after receiving all of that input, the commission hopes to release a new proposed rule on Class II by January of 2005.
"When that proposed rule is published in accordance with the rulemaking requirements of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act, there will be the opportunity for at least sixty days of further comment to the actual proposed rules by the tribes and all industry entities and interests and the general public," he said. "Based on those comments, we will, working with our committee, put together the final rule and publish it as an effective rule sometime in late June, early July 2005."
The complete draft of the NIGC's Class II game classifications and technical standards can be found at www.nigc.gov.