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story.lead_photo.caption A roulette wheel spins at Cherokee Casino & Hotel in West Siloam Springs, Okla., on August 23. Some Oklahoma casinos have been granted permission to install “ball and dice” games including roulette and craps. - Photo by Ben Goff

Some of the American Indian casinos right across the Oklahoma line from Arkansas have started offering games of roulette and craps, making them a little more like Las Vegas casinos.

Prior to the new rule, the tribal casinos offered only card games with similar odds to craps and roulette. But those games failed to provide the excitement and tactile stimulation that come with actual dice and ball games, experts said.

Last month, the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved Oklahoma's compact with 13 tribes to allow for extended types of Class III gambling so they can now offer "ball and dice" games. Two Oklahoma tribes, with casinos near the border of Arkansas -- the Cherokee and the Choctaw -- have received the OK to offer the games to players.

Mickey Ward, senior director of corporate gambling with Cherokee Nation, said the ball and dice games will be offered at three of the tribe's casinos. There will be two craps tables and three roulette tables at the tribe's Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, one craps table and one roulette table at Cherokee Casino and Hotel in West Siloam Springs, and one roulette table with plans to add a craps soon at Cherokee Casino and Hotel in Roland.

"We now can offer the full casino experience right here in the state," Ward said.

The tribes in Oklahoma booked $4.214 billion in revenue from casinos in 2015, up 6.7 percent from $3.95 billion in 2014, according to the Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report. Nongambling revenue connected to the casinos in Oklahoma for 2015 totaled $667 million, up 4.7 percent from $637 million for the year earlier.

Late last month, backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to authorize four casinos in Arkansas turned in additional signatures in an attempt to qualify their measure for the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Arkansas has no tribal-owned gambling, but betting is allowed on greyhound races at Southland Park in West Memphis and thoroughbred horse races at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. State law allows gambling on electronic devices at the racetracks that are similar to devices offered at out-of-state casinos.

Steve Bourie, writer and editor of the American Casino Guide, in response to email questions, said he's certain some gamblers will enjoy playing real versions of roulette and craps at the Oklahoma casinos. He noted there was one significant difference as opposed to gambling in Vegas, the games are still player-banked, which means they require an ante to the house to play.

"That makes them very bad bets because in addition to the normal house edge, you also have to pay money to the house for the privilege of playing those games, which make the odds much worse for the players," he wrote.

Joe Weinert, executive vice president of The Spectrum Gaming Group, an independent research and consulting group serving the casino industry, said most people have an idea of what a casino atmosphere should be and the active games of craps and roulette should help tribal operations in Oklahoma meet that expectation.

"There is a convivial and communal aspect to these games," he said. "Blackjack and slots don't have the same appeal. These are good times games."

Photo by Ben Goff
Casino worker Eva Rackleff (left) manages a craps table where Wendy Teach of Bentonville was gambling on Aug. 23 at the Cherokee Casino & Hotel in West Siloam Springs, Okla.

SundayMonday Business on 09/02/2018

Print Headline: Oklahoma casinos OK'd for craps, roulette

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