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Checking Out A California Indian Casino

28 July 2000

Saturday I decided to check out what all the ruckus was about California Indian Casinos. It had been a year since I last visited the one just off of California State Route 88 in Jackson, so it was time to visit again and see what changes had occurred since the passage of Proposition 1A in March, allowing the tribes to offer Vegas style games, with the exception of craps and roulette.

Within 100 miles of Lake Tahoe you can find the Jackson Rancheria Casino, Hotel, & Conference Center, nestled in the heart of California's gold country. Located in Amador County in the foothills is a glorious casino awaiting discovery.

The minimum age to gamble in California is 18, so don't be surprised if the employees look awfully young! The Jackson Rancheria Casino is alcohol free, and it was really a pleasant experience. My order for coffee was delivered in moments in a nice gourmet coffee cup with a lid, like the big coffee houses. And was it good! The entire staff was friendly, helpful, and answered my many questions easily.

The minute I got out of my car, an air conditioned shuttle pulled up offering me a courtesy ride to the front door. Walking in, my jaw hit the floor. I was just there last year and now new construction was everywhere. The lobby is now as lavish as any I have seen, and there are buffets, and bingo, and slots, and more slots. Coming by the end of the year are 1000 new slot machines. For the time being, the games pay off with vouchers...but who cares? They were ALL progressive, and all had great payoffs. The place filled fast, and everyone was having a great time. Word had it that they had paid a $100,000 jackpot the day before. Happy people everywhere. I truly did not want to leave.

Although it was nearly 100 degrees outside, the temperature inside had me wishing for a sweater. The Indian casinos are the one place California visitors can smoke indoors in a public place, but let me tell you, the ventilation was terrific. Don't know where the smoke went, but it just didn't hang around. It was with great reluctance that I left, hopping the same air-conditioned shuttle back to my car.

Getting back to Lake Tahoe... I had my curiosity aroused about the slot technology being offered at the Barona Casino in San Diego. So I called IGT and asked several questions. While some of the questions I asked had to be forwarded, I received an e-mail response from Rick Sorensen of IGT today. I had asked when and if the EZ PAY system developed by IGT would be available at Lake Tahoe casinos, and if most existing IGT slots would be adaptable to this pay system. His response was:

1. The EZ Pay Ticket System has been approved for Native American casinos in California and Arizona, and has been submitted for approval in other Native American jurisdictions. EZ Pay and IVS (Integrated Voucher System) are cash handling alternatives that give players and operators a multi-denominational choice and printed tickets that can be used in other EZ Pay machines like currency, or can be redeemed for cash by a properly equipped attendant or at the casino cashier. The operator determines how much of the payout falls into the tray and how much gets printed on the ticket.

2. Current machine configurations like the 17-inch video upright, 17-inch video slant, Vision Series upright slot, Vision Series slant, and S2000 slot are either EZ Pay ready, or can be upgraded to accept EZ Pay. Older gaming machines like the S-Plus slot and Players Edge-Plus poker cannot be adapted to EZ Pay.

3. EZ Pay is awaiting final written approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, following a field trial of the system at the Santa Fe casino in Las Vegas. When that approval happens, EZ Pay should be appearing shortly in Nevada casinos.

I am looking forward to this system--finally something that makes sense. Having witnessed enough hopper malfunctions to last a lifetime, I hope this type of technology sweeps the future. Now if they would just design a coin tray that lets you get to your coins easily--narrow, deep wells full of stuff people stick in them just isn't appealing!

Around the Lake:Harveys Resort & Casino is moving right along with plans for their two-day outdoor concert. On August 25th weary gamblers can be entertained by Peter Frampton, Credence Clearwater Revisited, and Edgar Winter. On the 26th, the lineup is: Joe Walsh, BTO, and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad fame. Harrah's Tahoe paid out over $120,000 on a three-quarter jackpot, and close to $35,000 on the two-coin $1 slot bank, "Sierra Slots." Caesars Tahoe is still giving away oodles of stuff on their "Break the Bank" promotion for Emperor's Club members...membership is free. They also still have that neon yellow Lamborghini Diablo for 5 quarters...just line 'em up! Horizon Casino Resort is having its "Hot Tahoe Cruisin' " Car Show August their outdoor events.... Lakeside Inn is joining forces with KOWL radio (local station, AM 1490) to do a sports show out of their new Sportsbook in the new Tavern area on Friday nights at 6 pm. Mr. "B" finally got his vacation after all the remodeling, etc. He earned this one!

For almost six months, I have been putting the daily progressives, along with weather and road conditions and other items of interest to gamblers, on the pages of my site. I have to ask once again for your input...many have sent in surveys...just an easy link on the site...but I still need more. If you like the site, please respond. Tell a friend. Put me in the record books with the responses, just please let me know. Your responses have been heart-warming, to say the least. You, the gamblers of the world, are what keeps me going. A big thanks to all!