CNB waiting on green light for craps, roulette

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
08/08/2018 12:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa officials are just waiting for the federal approval to start playing ball-and-dice games such as this craps table. Before the game can be played, the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs must approve the Cherokee Nation’s supplement to its gaming compact with the state and it must be published in the Federal Register. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
A roulette table sits in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa waiting to be used. Cherokee Nation Entertainment officials recently trained about 50 people over three months on how to deal with the game’s physical mechanics as opposed to the simulated card-based version it previously offered. COURTESY
CATOOSA – Cherokee Nation Businesses officials are waiting on federal red tape to clear before they begin operating the recent state-approved ball-and-dice games at three selected casinos.

CNB Chief Operating Officer Mark Fulton said CNB officials have selected the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Cherokee Casino & Hotel Roland and Cherokee Casino West Siloam Springs as the first three casinos to offer live-action craps and roulette under a law that went into effect Aug. 2.

He said those casinos were selected because they offer the simulated card-based craps and roulette games. “You just drew it from a card instead of tossing the live dice for the outcome, the ball landing on a spot on the roulette wheel. We have been offering the games, it’s just the live action of the mechanism is what’s been missing,” he said.

However, before those table games can operate, he said Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney had to approve the Cherokee Nation’s recent gaming compact supplement. After her approval it then had to be published in the Federal Register, he said.

“Our holdup is there was no undersecretary for the Bureau of Indian Affairs that was sitting in the seat during the time period that has been elapsing. That seat has been filled, confirmed via the Senate, and Tara Sweeney is in that role and actually began her job Monday (July 30),” Fulton said. “So we are waiting for her and her department’s review and approval. We submitted our tribal resolution along with 15 other tribes, and as soon as she puts her pen to paper then submits it for publication and it’s actually publicized in the Federal Register we’ll be able to take the games live.”

Fulton said when CNB gets to operate the tables the Roland casino would offer one roulette game. He added that the West Siloam Springs casino and Hard Rock would offer both craps and roulette with Hard getting two tables for each game and West Siloam Springs getting one each.

“If the games are met with a huge success, then we are planning to add an additional game or two to the facilities based on customer demand and acceptance,” Fulton said.

He said the payouts wouldn’t differ than from what’s currently offered under the simulated games. “But the action of live dice tumbling and the roulette wheel, the ball actually spinning, obviously creates excitement by the players,” Fulton said.

He said to prepare for the new games CNB internally trained approximately 50 dealers who operate the simulated card-based games. He said those dealers trained for more than three months and up to 200 hours.

Fulton said the training dealt mostly with game protection and security because the mechanisms changed from a card coming out of a shoot to actual live mechanics. Dealers already knew how to perform the games. “The live dice that they’re (players) used to, and then the roll of the ball, we wanted to make sure the mechanics in which those work, our staff is properly trained and ready to offer that. So we are ready.”

He added that CNB brought in a third party to ensure compliance in game protection and security and to evaluate the staff.

Fulton also said CNB officials expect to see a revenue bump when it switches to the live games from the simulated ones because local craps and roulette players won’t have to travel great distances anymore to play them.

“We do expect to see an increase because obviously it’s one of the questions we always get: ‘why don’t we have live craps and roulette in Oklahoma?’ So we’ve done some preliminary estimates. It will not be material contribution on our financial statement, but we also think it could have a significant impact, not just on those games, but if those people that prefer those games make an extra trip here instead of going down to Louisiana or Mississippi or even (Las) Vegas to play that game,” he said. “Those players have a certain affinity for holding those dice in their hands and rolling them down the table, and they are accustomed to a live roulette wheel.”

Timeline of ball-and-dice games in Oklahoma

April 6: Oklahoma Legislature sends House Bill 3375 to Gov. Mary Fallin. It allows non-house banked table games such as craps and roulette at tribal casinos as a revenue-raising measure for education. The state is to get 10 percent of the monthly net wins.

April 10: Gov. Mary Fallin signs the bill into law with a 90-day wait period.

July 11: Tribal Councilors pass a gaming compact supplement with the state to allow Cherokee Nation casinos to offer live-action craps and roulette. It’s sent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for approval.

July 30: Tara Sweeney becomes the new assistant secretary of Indian Affairs. She is the federal administrator who must approve the tribe’s gaming supplement.

Aug. 2: HB 3375 goes into effect. Tribes can begin offering the games once federal approval is obtained and published in the Federal Register for 30 days.
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...

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