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Thread: Payback at Indian Casinos

  1. #1
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    Default Payback at Indian Casinos

    Indian casinos are free to set paybacks as low as the tribes and their casino operators wish in order to maximize profits. They can change their payback percentage at any time to any level they wish. There are no limits and no controls. A recent letter I received from the National Indian Gaming Commission states “The NIGC does not establish minimum pay out percentages; that is up to each tribal operation to determine for themselves.”

    A decision in 1999 in the federal case “Missouri ex rel. Nixon v Coeur D’Alene Tribe” preempted the states in which Indian casinos are located to regulate gambling. This information was obtained from the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office. The 1994 compact between NC Governor Jim Hunt and the Eastern Band of Cherokees requiring a minimum payback of 83% was preempted by this court decision. Based on personal experience and online reviews of other Harrah’s Cherokee Casino patrons, the payback is probably well below 50%. This is true for most Indian casinos.

    These are the reasons why it is impossible to get an Indian casino to tell you their payback percentage - THERE IS NOT ANY MINIMUM!

  2. #2
    Steve Bourie is offline Administrator
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    Actually, there are minimum payback percentages in force at some Indian casinos.

    The details of that would be contained in the compact which is the agreement between each state and the Indian Tribes offering gaming in that particular state. According to the Indian Gaming regulation Act (IGRA) a compact must be in effect between the states and the Tribes and that compact regulates what gaming is legal in that state and how it should or should not be regulated. Each state compact is different in how it regulates Tribal gaming.

    If you look at the listing for each state on the American Casino Guide web site we do list if that particular state has mandated minimum payback percentages with the Tribes. Most states don't require a minimum, but some do.

    I don't think it is possible for a slot machine to have a payback percentage of 50% because I know of no major slot machine manufacturer offering chips with that low a payback percentage. The lowest I have seen is around 82% and that was a rarity. Most machines have minimum percentages in the high 80's.

    As long as you are playing a machine that is made by a major name in the slot machine business I don't think you should be concerned about it being set to payback at an extraordinarily low percentage.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    The following was received from the NIGC on May 5, 2010.

    "
    Mr. Garren --

    The NIGC does not establish pay out percentages; that is up to each tribal operation to determine for themselves.


    From: NADONGA@aol.com [mailto:NADONGA@aol.com]
    Sent: Sun 5/2/2010 1:00 PM
    To: info
    Subject: SLOT MACHINE PAYBACK PERCENTAGE


    Gentlemen:

    Does the NIGC set minimum payback percentages on slot machines in Indian casinos? If so, what are the minimum percentages? Are minimum percentages monitored and enforced?

    I was unable to find answers to these questions on your web site. I am specifically interested in Harrah's Cherokee Casino.

    Any information you can provide will be appreciated.

    Donald L. Garren"


    =

  4. #4
    Steve Bourie is offline Administrator
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    I know that the NIGC does not require any minimum payback percentages on gaming machines at Indian casinos.

    However, that issue is sometimes regulated in the terms of the compact between the Tribes and the state.

    Some states require a minimum payback percentage and some don't. Each state is different and it depends on what is in the gaming compact.
    Last edited by Steve Bourie; 05-10-2010 at 05:15 PM.

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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    All compacts between the Indian tribes and states were preempted by the 1999 court case "Missouri ex rel. Coeur D'Alene Tribe. Following is information sent to me by the North Carolina State Attorney General's Office:

    "I have reviewed and researched your claims concerning alleged illegal payback percentages at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino. There is case law which states that the “Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (25 USCS §§ 2701-2721) completely preempts any attempt by [a] state in which tribal land is located to regulate or prohibit [a] lottery.” Missouri ex rel. Nixon v Coeur D'Alene Tribe, 164 F3d 1102, 42 FR Serv 3d 1127 (1999, CA8 Mo). That is my understanding having reviewed the IGRA, and North Carolina General Statutes as well. As such, your recourse is to contact the National Indian Gaming Commission, which regulates gaming activities on Indian lands at 1441 L. Street NW Suite 9100, Washington, D.C. 20005; Phone: (202) 632-7003; Fax: (202) 632-7066; Email: info@nigc.gov.

    As to your complaints concerning the Compact between North Carolina and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, they should be directed to the Office of the Governor of the State of North Carolina at 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0301; Phone: (919)733-4240; Fax: (919)733-2120.

    DAVID J. ADINOLFI II
    SPECIAL DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
    NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
    "

    There are no limits or controls of any kind on pay out percentages at Indian casinos. The IGRA was reviewed and does not control pay backs.The tribes are able to set them as low as they wish and change them at any time. It is possible to set the machines at any level they want. The slot machine manufacturers have no control on what chips are used or if real time computer control is used for payback percentage. There are computer programmers and chip manufacturers that will make what ever chip that is wanted and program the machines.

    I have already contacted the NIGC and the y responded that the tribes can do as they wish.

  6. #6
    Steve Bourie is offline Administrator
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    Have you contacted the Governor's office?

    The court case you mention is for the state of Missouri which was suing an Idaho Indian Tribe for offering an Internet lottery for Missouri residents. Somehow, that doesn't seems like it applies to your situation. The result of that case was that Missouri lost because it had no jursidiction over a sovereign Idaho Tribe.

    I have read stories saying that the 1994 gaming compact in N Carolina may not be valid because it was not approved by the state legislature. Perhaps, that is why they are saying the valid is not enforced? I know we had that happen here in Florida.

    Anyway, the gaming pact should give details on what minimum payback percentages are required and how that that regulation should be enforced. I would assume that the Governor's office could provide you with a way to see the terms of that compact. Also, they should be able to explain if the compact is valid or not and why.

    Usually, the Indian casino would contract with an outside agency to test their machines to make sure they meet the minimum payback requirements. The largest company doing that is Gaming Labs International.

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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    I have contacted the NC governors office and am waiting for a reply. In a previous post I copied the response I received from the NC Attorney General's office. I expect that is where the governor will go to get an opinion. The response was that the federal court case preempted all states from enforcing any reguations on Indian casinos and that the compact with North Carolina was also preempted by this court decision.

    It is fantasy to believe that the Indian casinos and their operators will not maximize ther profits when it is legal to do so. There in no minimum payout restrictions on Indian casinos, it is up to the tribes and their casino operators to set them as they wish.

    These casinos have the resources to have chip manufacturers design payout chips for any percentage they wish. They could also have computer hardware and software designers make slot machines payout percentages controlled in real time so they can change pay outs at will.

  8. #8
    Steve Bourie is offline Administrator
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    Sorry, but I don't understand the logic in some of the responses you are getting, if they are indeed an accurate reflection of what was told to you.

    All Indian gaming is covered by the National Indian Gaming Regualtion Act - NIGRA . This federal law requires that an Indian Tribe enter into a compact with each state before that Tribe is allowed to offer any form of Class III gambling.

    That compact lays out the rules and regulations for the gaming on that particular Tribe's reservation. It is entirely up to the state and the Tribe to determine how the gaming should be regulated, if at all. Once the compact is reached it is then sent to the federal governemtn for its approval.

    Because of these provisions in NIGRA I don't understand why you would be told "the federal court case preempted all states from enforcing any reguations on Indian casinos and that the compact with North Carolina was also preempted by this court decision."

    Anyway, once again, I really wouldn't be concerned that there is any conspiracy to have especially low-paying chips installed at the Cherokee Indian casino.

    As long as you are seeing machines made by major slot manufacturers such as IGT, WMS, Bally, etc, you should be fine. I wouldn't have any problem playing in an Indian casino with those machines.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    Mr. Bourie, you are living in the past. Once a computer chip had to be changed to change the odds of a slot machine. Please read the following, then update your Indian casino payback information:

    John Gurzinski for The New York Times:

    "Justin Beltram, director of slot operations at the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas, can reprogram machines with a few mouse clicks.

    Mr. Beltram, a casino executive, is the point man in a high-technology experiment that could alter the face of slot machines, and their insides, too.

    With a few clicks of his computer mouse, Mr. Beltram can reprogram the 1,790 slot machines on the casino floor, adjusting the denominations required to play, payback percentages, even game themes."


    Do you think that Indian casinos with their vast resources and no legal lower limits to pay outs are not aware of and usinng this technology?

  10. #10
    Steve Bourie is offline Administrator
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    Default Re: Payback at Indian Casinos

    What you are referrring to is "server-based gaming."

    Those kind of machines are not widely available and I addrsss this issue in my video about how slot machines work. You can see it at - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Wkubf1PrWg

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