Here’s one of those good-news stories that you don’t often hear about involving the gaming industry. Not that they don’t occur – they do. It just seems like they don’t get anywhere near the attention or publicity as the negative stuff.

National Public Radio’s Morning Edition news show reported on how Native American tribes are helping out local governments, including struggling school districts and even one county prosecuting attorney’s office.

NPR’s Hansi Lo Wang’s report detailed how one tribe helped Prosecutor Mark Roe save at least one position in the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The tribe wrote a check for nearly $87,000 to save one deputy prosecutor position in the county’s district court. Prosecutor Mark Roe had gone to the Stillaguamish tribe to request help, after already having to lay off four of his 12 deputy prosecutors. “We’re not fully funded. And so either we find some ways to get that money, or we tell people they’re out of a job,” Roe said in an interview with Wang.

Shawn Yanity, chairman of the Stillaguamish Tribe, which operates the Angel of the Winds casino about an hour north of Seattle, told Wang that his tribal council was glad to help out. “The fire departments, prosecutor's office, law enforcement, you know, and our schools are such a vital part of the infrastructure to our communities that if you can enhance, enhance those programs, it's better for the community,” he told her.

Wang also interviewed Melvin Sheldon, chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, also in Washington. He noted that the Tulalip tribes needed U.S. government help over the years. Now, the situation is different, and the tribes are able to help out. Recently, the tribes gave $1.3 million to a local struggling school district facing budget cuts.

Like I mentioned above, stories like these are by no means anomalies, but they don’t always get the press they deserve, so kudos to the tribes involved in this particular case.



SLOTS OF FUN IN OHIO

The owners of Ohio’s seven racetracks will be permitted to apply for licenses to operate slot machines under a plan offered by Gov. John Kasich.

Under the plan, Ohio’s three thoroughbred tracks – all been purchased by casino companies over the past 18 months – would receive 10-year slot-machine licenses after paying the state a total of $50 million in licensing fees over three years. If all the licenses are awarded, Ohio could have a total of 11 casinos, just two years after voters approved four free-standing casinos following years of voter opposition to gaming expansion measures.

The plan was part of a deal brokered by Kasich with Caesars Entertainment to address the company’s concern over a bill recently passed by the Ohio legislature.

Under the deal, the state has promised to consider plans by Penn National Gaming Inc., the casino company that owns Beulah Park and Raceway Park, to relocate its two racetracks to markets that would not compete with casinos it has been authorized to build by the 2009 referendum.

If Kasich’s proposal comes to fruition, it could put pressure on Kentucky to legalize casinos. Stay tuned.