By Grant D. Crawford
After Nevada, Oklahoma has the highest number of casinos in the country, as federally recognized tribes are granted exclusive rights to operate gaming facilities.
There are three types of gaming in which Okies can engage: Class I, Class II, and Class III. The National Indian Gaming Commission, pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, regulates the Class II and Class III gaming, but does not track Class I.
A statement from NIGC explained that Class I games are solely for prizes of minimal value. The classes are defined by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which also identifies Class I gaming as traditional forms of Indian gaming engaged in by individuals as part of, or in connection with, tribal ceremonies or celebrations.
“Class II games are bingo, including bingo played electronically or with other technological aids, and when played in the same location as bingo, pull-tabs, lotto, punch boards, tip jars, instant bingo and other games similar to bingo,” an NGIC representative said. “Class II also includes non-banked card games that are explicitly authorized by the laws of the state, or are not explicitly prohibited by the laws of the state and are played at any location in the state.”
Many casinos offer Class II slot machines that closely resemble Class III slot machines. While they might look the same, Class II games will typically have a small bingo card somewhere on the screen. It is played out in real time, and when players make a wager, they are effectively playing against others who are also feeling lucky.
All other forms of gaming not considered as Class I or Class II are Class III games. Class III gaming is when a player is betting against “the house,” such as with blackjack, craps, roulette, or any other table games. Slot machines also fall under Class III gaming. Unlike Class II slot machines, Class III slots use a random number generator.
There are multiple games with varying odds within each class. Class II gaming appears to more prevalent in Oklahoma, as Class III gaming requires the casino to pay exclusivity fees to the state.
Cherokee Casino Tahlequah, which has reopened after closing due to the COVID-19 outbreak, features over 400 electronic games.
They have made some changes to the layout, as the number of games and seats available to the public have been reduced to promote physical distancing.
Sanitizing wipes are also available for players to clean their machines of choice, and more of the casino’s staff are working the floor to help sanitized the games and seating.