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Wash., Tribes Reach Gambling Deal

October 10, 1998

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) _ A dozen Indian tribes and the state have reached an agreement that would allow certain video gambling machines at tribal casinos _ but not slot machines.

Representatives of tribes and the state reached the agreement after a year of court-ordered negotiations. The goal is to find a way to allow tribes to offer electronic forms of gambling without violating a law banning slot machines.

The machines described in the agreement don’t even exist, but the state and tribes agreed the technology is available.

The proposal was submitted Friday to the state Gambling Commission. The nine-member panel plans to solicit public comment _ before deciding whether the agreement should go to Gov. Gary Locke, who has the final say. The commission has 45 days to act.

Doreen Maloney, general manager of the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe, said Nevada-style slots are still preferred, but the tribes figure these new electronic games would help struggling casinos.

Under a 10-year-old federal law that authorized tribal casinos, states must negotiate with tribes to allow the kinds of gambling that are legal for charities, private businesses and other groups.

The state argues that the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act prohibits such Nevada-style ``Class III″ gaming devices as slot machines and has refused to consider them in negotiations with tribes. Washington voters twice have rejected ballot measures sponsored by the tribes that would have authorized slot machines.

Earlier this year, the Shoalwater Bay Tribe smuggled illegal slots onto its coastal reservation. Federal marshals acting under a court order removed most of the devices last month.

The agreement would apply only to the 12 tribes participating in a lawsuit filed jointly with the state in 1995 to determine what forms of gambling should be allowed. Other tribes could seek permission to operate the games.

The agreement would not apply to card rooms and non-tribal casinos.

It also would not directly affect the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Colville Confederated Tribes, both of which continue to defy the state by operating some 1,800 Nevada-style slot machines at five casinos in eastern Washington.

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