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Mini-casino lobbying group releases study – and will support legislation – in favor of “slot machine” expansion in state

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on March 17, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
March 17, 2011 3:34 pm

The Recreational Gaming Association, which represents non-tribal mini-casinos in the state, will support a bill expanding machine gaming in the state.

According to Dolores Chiechi, association executive director, the bill will be introduced in the state House as soon as next week.

“Look for bill to be introduced Monday,” she said Thursday afternoon.

The bill will propose that mini-casinos, or “house-banked card rooms,’ be allowed to offer customers a chance to bet on slot-machine-like devices similar to those in tribal casinos.

Although previous efforts to legalize the machines have failed, Chiechi said this proposal may gain favor with legislators.

“I’m hopeful,” she said. “We’ve had legislators who wouldn’t have conversations in the past, who are now willing to open the dialogue.”

Using the results of a study released this week, Chiechi noted that the machines would provide the state with much-needed revenue.

“Tax revenues in 2012 could be as much as $157.6 million, and could grow to as much as $206.5 million a year by 2016,” said an association press release.

The study was prepared by Gaming Market Advisors of Las Vegas.

The figures are based on an average of 125 machines located at each of the state’s 63 existing mini-casinos – for a total of 7,875 machines across the state.

Sixty-three mini-casinos were operating at the time the study being prepared, although the number fluctuates. Fewer are operating today.

Tribal casinos in Washington – the only place where gaming machines can be operated – offer some 23,000 machines, the RGA said.

A spokesman for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians on Thursday had no comment on the association’s proposal.

Chiechi said the new proposal differs from Initiative 892, which voters rejected in in 2004 and would have offered machines beyond tribal casinos. The initiative offered more locations for machines, where the new proposal limits locations to mini-casinos.

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