Federal gaming regulators make surprise announcement 

Federal gaming regulators surprised a gaming panel recently by announcing they will abandon some technical proposed regulation changes to Class II gaming machines. The panel discussion was one of the last scheduled at the 21st annual Sovereignty Symposium in the Skirvin Hilton Hotel.

Phil Hogen, National Indian Gaming Commission chair, said to a room of 120 tribal leaders and gaming officials at the symposium June 6 that the proposed changes would not go forward for approval. The issue had pitted tribes and federal regulators against each other for more than two years.

Technical standards and minimum internal control standards will continue to be studied while controversial proposals were dropped that would have meant a game classification system on facsimiles of games of chance.

"We always know where we want to go, but we don't know how to get there," Hogen said. "We will tighten the focus and narrow it and see if we can't get there (regulation changes) that way."

Proposed changes were supposed to draw a "bright line" between Class II and Class III games, Hogen said. Oklahoma has roughly 60 percent of the Class II market in the country.

Hogen sat on a panel with tribal gaming attorneys and made the announcement to a round of applause by the 100-plus onlookers.

One of them, Richard Chissoe, Osage Nation gaming commissioner, said the announcement was welcome news.

"I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we appreciate the reconsideration of the proposed changes," Chissoe said.

The changes, proposed more than two years ago, would have impacted the Oklahoma Indian gaming market significantly, according to attorney Jess Green.

Green said he estimated that if the changes were approved, it would have been equal to $1,000 in losses for every man, woman and child in Oklahoma. "S.E. Ruckman

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