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Status of Gambling Laws - Part 1: United States, Alabama - Florida23 January 2002
The following are American jurisdictions having recent activity concerning legal gambling.
* States and territories with gaming devices are marked with an asterisk: *
! States with at least one casino (defined as having both banking card games and slot-like machines) are marked with an exclamation point: !
UNITED STATES - Interior Secretary Gale Norton told Congress she needs time to decide whether to implement regulations proposed by former Secretary Bruce Babbitt that would give this federal official power to approve tribal casinos over a state's objections. Florida and Alabama had sued Babbitt and bills to explicitly give or to take away the secretary's power have failed to pass both houses. The National Gambling Impact Study Commission has come and gone and been forgotten; its Final Report was filled with factual errors. One bill (Kyl) to prohibit Internet gambling, with many exemptions for state-licensed gaming, passed the Senate and another (Goodlatte) passed House committees, but both failed to get two-thirds majority in the House. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled federal laws against casino broadcast commercials were unconstitutional; state prohibitions may still be valid. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has so far stopped bills to outlaw legal sports betting.
* ALABAMA - The Seminole case began when the Poarch Band of Creek Indians sued the state because the Governor refused to negotiate for casinos. The U.S. Supreme Court: 1) ruled a state could not be sued without its consent; but, 2) refused to decide whether the Secretary of the Interior could make the gaming regulations, leaving tribes and states in limbo. The tribe is operating gaming devices in a bingo hall, while the court fights continue. The state allows slot-like machines in kiddie arcades. Dog tracks and adult arcades have put in machines which pay out coupons. A state judge ruled and Atty. Gen. Bill Pryor opined these are illegal slots; suits are pending. A federal judge has cleared the way for authorities to ban video arcades in Jefferson County. A proposal to give the state's four moribund dog tracks true video poker machines has been reintroduced, but appears to be dead. Gov. Fob James, Jr. (R) opposed a State Lottery and lost reelection to Don Siegelman (D) in Nov. 1998. But an unprecedented mobilization of religious organizations throughout the country defeated a constitutional amendment to allow a State Lottery at the polls in Oct. 1999.
ALASKA - Casinos are prohibited by state law. Proposals to allow cruise ship gaming and the Klawock band of Tlingit Indians to open a full casino on remote Prince of Wales Island have gone nowhere.
!* ARIZONA - In July 2001, federal Judge Robert C. Broomfield issued a 121-page opinion, agreeing with the state's three racetracks that the Legislature unlawfully gave the Governor a "blank check" to sign future compacts, and that the state does not allow blackjack, keno or slots. He ordered Gov. Jane Hull not to enter into any new compacts. (Gov. Hull and the state's 17 gaming tribes were renegotiating, looking at a cap of 14,675 slots statewide and a 7% revenue sharing with the state.) Former governors signed compacts for casinos with slots (which remain open while the case is on appeal) because an Attorney General had ruled charities may run casino games. Judge Broomfield is wrong, mainly because the voters approved a standard form tribal compact. Former-Gov. Symington signed compacts with 16 tribes, but, misreading the federal Ninth Circuit's opinion in Rumsey, refused to sign any more. In Nov. 1996, voters approved the "Fairness Initiative," requiring the state to negotiate compacts with the remaining five tribes -- the first time in American history a state voted to allow new high-stakes casinos in the face of active opposition. In 2000, the Legislature authorized the governor to renegotiate the compacts (they begin to expire in 2003), but imposed requirements, including that compacts must: Set guidelines on ATMs and credit card use; require casinos to post the Arizona Lottery's problem gambling hotline number; prohibit advertising to minors; and establish a voluntary self-ban procedure for problem gamblers. The Legislature and Governor also approved raising the gambling age from 18 to 21 for all wagers, including tribal casinos.
ARKANSAS - A bill to allow Internet bets on races has cleared a Senate committee. A proposal to amend the state constitution to allow a State Lottery was introduced in Jan. 2001. On Nov. 7, 2000, voters defeated, 65% to 35%, an initiative for widespread casinos, charity raffles and bingo and a State Lottery. Similar competing constitutional amendments had been tried in 1990, 1994, 1996 and 1999. Some gathered enough signatures, but the State Supreme Court found all but one other initiative misleading. That one lost 62% to 31% in Nov. 1999, due to the state's active religious organizations and opposition from Mississippi's casinos.
!* CALIFORNIA - In Aug. 1999, the State Supreme Court, quoting my 1986 book, Gambling and the Law, ruled Prop. 5 violated the state constitution's ban on Nevada- and New Jersey-style casinos. The governor, legislature and tribes put another proposal together, Prop. 1A, approved overwhelmingly by the voters on March 7, 2000. Tribes now have a monopoly on full casinos written into the constitution. (An initiative to bring in commercial casinos is gathering signatures, but will fail at the polls.) The accompanying compact, approved by the federal government in May 2000, allows each tribe to have two casinos and up to 2,000 slot machines, subject to an incomprehensible formula capping the state total at either 43,000 or 113,000. Amazingly, Gov. Gray Davis failed to send a representative when tribes allocated slot machines to themselves, so the state did not know which tribes had slot machines, let alone how many there were. Pres. Clinton signed a bill in Dec. 2000 with the "Miller amendment," a misleadingly labeled "Technical Correction," which allows the landless Lytton Band of Pomo Indians to turn the San Pablo card club into an urban casino near San Francisco. Card clubs, race tracks and charity bingo parlors, afraid of tribes opening more casinos in urban areas, filed a lawsuit, which will probably be dismissed for failing to join indispensable parties -- the tribes, which cannot be sued without their consent. Approximately 45 casinos now take in more than $2 billion a year; they can renegotiate for more slots in two years and can demand Internet lotteries now. California will soon be second only to Nevada in casino revenue. Attendance at race tracks is falling; Golden Gate Fields dropped 40% in ten years. Legislation created a gaming control commission in 1997, but Gov. Davis took three years to make his appointments. In 2001 Gov. Davis signed a bill to let residents make bets and tracks take bets on horse races by phone and Internet.
!* COLORADO - The 43 $5-maximum bet casinos with blackjack, poker and slot machines in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek brought in $631.8 million in 2000, and there were two more on Indian reservations. Widespread gray market video gaming devices pay off, when police aren't around. The casinos came in through a constitutional amendment in 1990, but voters overwhelmingly rejected adding new towns and slot machines in airports in 1992, 1994 and 1996. Gov. Romer vetoed legislation to add gaming machines to dog and horse tracks in 1997.
!* CONNECTICUT - State and federal officials are investigating allegations in the book Without Reservation, which challenges the federal recognition of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, owners of Foxwoods, the largest, most profitable casino in the world. Then-Gov. Weicker signed compacts giving an oligopoly on slots to the Pequots and later to the Mohegans for 25% of net slot win or $80 million each, whichever is greater. So far, the state has received more than $1 billion. The compacts lack any limits, so both casinos keep growing. Foxwoods has a 315,310 square-foot casino with 370 table games, keno, poker tables, race book, high-stakes bingo and 5,944 slot machines. The two Indian casinos will win more than $1.5 billion this year, making them the third largest casino market in the U.S. Five more tribes are close to getting federal approval. Legal gambling has surpassed corporate income tax to become the third largest source of revenue in the state budget, behind the personal income tax and the sales tax. Connecticut's last jai alai fronton is closing in Dec. 2001; Hartford closed in 1995 and Bridgeport fronton was converted to a dog track.
* DELAWARE - A 1994 law allowed each of the state's three racetracks to have up to 1,000 slot-machine-like video lottery terminals (VLTs). "Racinos" opened over the 1996 New Year's Eve weekend. The Legislature keeps raising the number of permitted machines. Delaware Park and Dover Downs each have the state's present limit of 2,000; Harrington has 1,151. Racinos have been good for the tracks. Large purses have made Harrington (Midway) a national leader in harness races. Three-quarters of the Lottery's revenue now comes from VLTs. The Legislature is considering a bill legalizing riverboat casinos.
FLORIDA - Following the Seminole decision, the tribe asked Babbitt for casino regulations. Suits have been filed, but the tribe is expanding its four bingo halls/casinos with video gaming devices, without compacts or regulations. A $17 million casino initiative lost big in 1994. The State Supreme Court will decide whether casinos violate the State Constitution; if not, proponents still have to gather a half million signatures to get on the 2002 ballot. In March 1999, a House committee approved, 8-0, electronic slots at tracks and jai-alai frontons. But claims that this would open the door to full casinos killed the proposal. A ballot initiative to allow counties to have referenda on slots at horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons has gathered enough signatures to be sent to the State Supreme Court; if cleared, it will need more signatures to make the Nov. 2002 ballot. At least 22 casino ships operate cruises-to-nowhere out of Florida's ports. Recent court decisions could allow the state or even local governments to put the ships out of business, though an anti-gaming bill aimed at cruise-to-nowhere operators was defeated in Aug. 2000.
Gambling and the Law®: Status of Gambling Laws
©Copyright November 18, 2001, all rights reserved worldwide. Gambling and the Law® is a registered trademark of Professor I. Nelson Rose, Whittier Law School, Costa Mesa, California.
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