Casino entrance

Work progresses on the main entrance to the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino at 93rd and Northern avenues.

The Tohono O’odham Nation took another step toward opening day for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino. Its job fair held Sept. 28 drew 3,000 applicants. Officials said 400 of those applicants were hired on site and will be working when the casino opens in December.

The slot machines have been ordered from Konami’s SYNKROS Casino Management System out of Las Vegas.

Don Ayers, director of slots at Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, said, “It’s just the beginning, but with SYNKROS at the core, we have access to a number of important industry-leading technology features down the road, like SYNKiosk and Advanced Incentives bonusing.”

Features that frequent casino patrons may find familiar is the SYNKiosk self-service enrollment stations, which allows them to create and/or reprint their valid player loyalty card in under 60 seconds. Other promotions and bonus activities will be offered at the new casino.

With the move to Class II slot machines, some people may be asking how they are different from Class III machines.

If looking at two slot machines, side by side, how can you tell which one is Class II and which is Class III? In Class II, all it takes is a look at the slot machine screen. There is a one-inch picture of a bingo card in the bottom left corner. Externally, a player cannot tell the difference. Inside is a different game.

Yet, as technology has advanced, so has the Class II slot machine. One casino expert, columnist Frank Legato, wrote in a Casino Player online article titled “The Reel Deal,” “In recent years, those Class II bingo machines have become more and more like their traditional, or ‘Class III,’ slot cousins in Las Vegas. The Seminole Hard Rock properties in Florida represent the state of the art in Class II sophistication.”

Legato also explained how manufacturers make bingo games behave like slot machines, and how payback percentages are determined. It’s mathematics, he said.

Legato said, “The Class II electronic bingo games at the Hard Rock are programmed with mathematical calculations to mimic Class III games as closely as possible while remaining within the definition of Class II bingo that is contained in IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act).

“Under IGRA, a Class II game must have a draw of bingo balls, and must result in what is called a ‘game-ending pattern.’ That is a pattern of numbers—two, three, four in a row; diagonal, vertical, four corners of the bingo card, etc.—that ends the game with a winning result.”

There are questions about how fair a game is in a Class II casino. But Legato wrote that even though tribal casinos are sovereign nations and are not regulated by the states, the machine manufacturers insist on fair payback percentages. The reason for this is if the payback percentages are not fair, players will recognize that and go elsewhere.

Budget impact of Keep the Promise Act of 2015

While the Nation has already made it clear it is opening a Class II casino in December in the West Valley, there is still the issue of its lawsuit with the state over a Class III license.

A scheduling conference has been tentatively set for sometime in November (no date certain). The conference will only be to set a date for an actual hearing, at which time, both parties will disclose whatever they have to present in the way of facts, and the judge will hear arguments from both sides.

The case could drag on for years. In the meantime, Congress has been involved through two bills introduced in the U.S. Senate and House. Even there, the issue becomes even more convoluted.

The Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010 (PAYGO, or “the Act”) is part of Public Law 111-139, enacted on Feb.12, 2010.  The Act requires all new legislation changing taxes, fees, or mandatory expenditures, taken together, must not increase projected deficits. This requirement is enforced by the threat of automatic across-the-board cuts in selected mandatory programs in the event that legislation taken as a whole does not meet the PAYGO standard established by the law. PAYGO also established special scorecards and scorekeeping rules.

The principle underlying PAYGO is a rule of budget neutrality - that is, the government must not enact any new laws that would increase projected deficits.

The Glendale Star requested and received the following information from the Congressional Budget Office regarding the potential budget impact of two separate bills introduced in Congress to prohibit the Nation from opening a casino until 2027.

The CBO researched the possible financial ramifications that would be felt if the Keep the Promise Act (introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, and in the U.S. House by Rep. Trent Franks) was enacted. The CBO concluded that:

● Regulatory taking claims are often unsuccessful and usually do not lead to significant economic awards when (as in this case) the taking does not fully diminish the economic value of the property;

● The outcomes of disputes about tribal gaming and land settlement agreements vary and are generally dependent on the specific facts of each dispute, making it difficult to use past disputes to predict the outcome of new cases;

● Prohibiting the tribe from operating gambling activities at the resort and casino near Glendale could result in a loss of net income to the tribe of more than $1 billion over the next decade; and

● Whether gaming was among the nonagricultural economic development activities envisioned under the tribe’s land settlement agreement is unclear because the property was acquired as a result of a land settlement agreement with the federal government that was enacted two years before the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which authorized gambling on tribal lands under certain circumstances.

CBO estimates that possible awards to the tribe following litigation could range from no monetary award to more than $1 billion. After considering the uncertainties about whether the tribe would prevail in a future lawsuit against the federal government, and the unpredictability of the amount of any award, CBO concluded that there is no basis to predict the amount of monetary award or settlement, if any, that the tribe would receive as a result of the enactment of H.R. 308.