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 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 4 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
- 5 Westboro Baptist Church couldn't picket Leonard Nimoy's funeral because they didn't know where it was
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...