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Sycuan's bingo slots raise questions

29 May 2008

CALIFORNIA -- As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune: "A small change in the way some gambling machines work at the Sycuan casino has attracted the attention of regulators who wonder whether the tribe has skirted the limits on how many slots it can offer.

"At issue are bingo-based slot machines, which are counted differently than Las Vegas-style slots and don't require licenses or payments to the state.

"Sycuan, near El Cajon, has about 300 of the machines, which serve mostly as a hedge against busy periods when all of its 2,000 Vegas-style slot machines are in use.

"This year, Sycuan set up some of the machines so they play faster, with just one press of a button.

"In the eyes of federal regulators, that means the machines aren't really bingo. If they're not, state officials say, they should be counted as standard machines, which determines how much money the tribe pays the state.

"The tribe's lawyers and gaming commission believe the one-touch games comply with the law, said Adam Day, assistant tribal manager.

"...Typically, bingo-based machines require players to press a "play" button or screen to start the game, and then a second press to "daub" a small bingo card displayed on a corner of a screen and claim the prize.

"...Some of Sycuan's bingo-based machines allow players to hit the 'play' button one time to start the game, daub the card and claim a prize.

"...It made the machines faster and easier to play, though not much more profitable, said Sheila Howe, Sycuan casino general manager..."

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