Do Tribal Gaming Casinos Have More Control Over Payouts?

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Our recent post around Tribal Gaming casinos drew a bit of attention, and yielded a few additional questions, such as this one:

Do casinos on Native American reservations have more control over payouts than other casinos?


As a general rule, no, they have the same control over payouts.

The machinery works the same – they’re buying equipment from the same providers, and the same games as well, which means their options for what they can set the paybacks to will be limited to what the game supports.

They may have different regulations under which they operate, but that doesn’t mean that they can do things commercial casinos cannot – the technology tends to be the same.

We’ve read reports that in some cases Tribal Gaming requirements can be even stricter than Nevada’s, for instance – some Tribal Gaming commissions require on-site presence of someone from the commission when certain changes are being made, for instance, or tape used to prove a machine hasn’t been tampered with since things were last reviewed.

We often see distrust in Tribal Gaming operations as the regulations may theoretically not be as stringent – some states don’t set minimum payback requirements in their compacts with tribes, for instance, and payback data isn’t often publicly reported – but the Tribal Gaming operators often go out of their way to offer a level of gambling that’s as good as, if not better than, their counterparts in Nevada.

Plus, many of the top Tribal Gaming operators are now also working in commercial markets. The Seminoles run Hard Rock casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas (well, once Mirage transforms into one, anyway); the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians are in charge of Palms in Las Vegas, and Mohegan operates a casino in Las Vegas, and has for a decade (although soon will not be) in Atlantic City.

So increasingly the lines are blending, but in a way that’s pretty transparent. Leadership is vetted and operations match what’s required. So no, they don’t have more control – if anything, sometimes they have a little less, compared to regulations in commercial markets.

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