Indian casino trick hits the right slot
Saturday 24 October 1998
In theory, a box with flashing lights and spinning wheels that the punter feeds with money in the hope of extracting a profit - what any unsuspecting person would recognise as a slot machine - is illegal in California. Or it has been up to now.
For it would seem the box with flashing lights and spinning wheels developed by the Pala tribe of north San Diego county is not a slot machine: its official name is an Indian Video Lottery Match Game and, although it looks like a slot machine, operates like one and sounds one, it succeeds, for official definitions, in being something different. Something entirely legal.
The loophole lies in a trick made possible by computers. The principle of a slot machine is that each customer tries his luck individually. But the Video Lottery Match Game gives each customer a number and picks a winner. The punter does not notice the difference, because the result is signalled by three cherries or strawberries appearing in sequence. But the difference, legally, is that customers are competing against each other rather than the house. If the machinery sounds complicated, it pales next to the complexities of the politics behind the wheeze.
Until recently, gambling was considered the domain of Nevada, to the east. Californian Indians have been allowed to run casinos on their reservations since 1988 but were restricted in what they could offer. What prompted the Pala to develop their machine was negotiations with California's Governor, Pete Wilson, to secure as much leeway as possible with a state leader nominally opposed to the spread of casinos. The Pala signed a compact in September, and 10 other Californian tribes followed suit.
But a different group of tribes lobbied to put a proposition legalising all forms of reservation gambling on to next month's electoral ballot. Supporters of Proposition 5 say Indians have the right to economic self- reliance and casinos are as good a way of achieving that as any.
However, there is one set of arguments on the surface and another underneath. Proposition 5 is not about the best interests of the Indians or the state but about different means of generating revenue and buying political influence. The Pala and others in the No camp are betting on the Video Lottery Match Game.
The Yes camp, meanwhile, wants to compete with Nevada head-on, betting that the financial muscle its gambling facilities will acquire will enable them to keep the politicians sweet and preserve their current tax advantages.
- 1 Top Gear team of Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May officially heading to Amazon Prime for new car show
- 2 Stuart Baggs: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
- 3 How to cancel Amazon Prime: after Top Gear hiring, how to leave premium service
- 4 Tesco scraps 'unexpected item in the bagging area' as self-checkouts switch to less 'frustrating' audio
- 5 Living in Spain and commuting to London 'cheaper than actually working in London'
Kate Winslet thanked 'particularly horrible' girl who bullied her at school after Titanic success
Stuart Baggs: Apprentice star 'The Brand' found dead aged 27
MH370: Boeing 777 wing that could match missing plane found on the French island of Reunion
MH370 debris: Investigators 'confident' that Boeing 777 wing found - live updates
Living in Spain and commuting to London 'cheaper than actually working in London'
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn – or a return to a Labour government
Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn says 'we can learn a great deal from Karl Marx'
I am the Jeremy Corbyn supporter that many will tell you doesn't exist
Public anger after French sunbather beaten up by gang for wearing a bikini in Reims park
Labour leadership: New poll shows party is now even 'less electable' than under Ed Miliband
Calais crisis: For desperate migrants it is 'England or death' as they brave dogs, riot police and speeding trains
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...
£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...
£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...