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Regulators look at casino dice games

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – State officials are working to clarify tribal gaming laws after three American Indian casinos began offering games involving dice.

The Quapaw Tribe developed a craps game in which dice “tell which cards are used,” patented it and is collecting fees from casinos owned by the Osage and Seneca-Cayuga tribes, Quapaw Vice Chairman J.R. Matthews said.

State and federal regulators said they are investigating the northeast Oklahoma casinos to determine whether the games are legal under a law that state voters passed in 2004 to allow non-house-banked card games, or those in which the casino has no stake in the outcome. The law specifically prohibits dice games and roulette wheels.

State Finance Director Claudia San Pedro said her office is working with the attorney general’s office to further define what is legal.

“We think the law’s clear,” San Pedro said. “But if there needs to be further clarification, we need to do that.”

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In Las Vegas-style craps, a player uses two dice to roll a combined number between two and 12. Certain numbers are winners, while others are losers. Other gamblers wager on what the roller will roll next.

Matthews said his tribe’s casino offers a different game.

“Even though we throw dice, the dice aren’t what speaks,” Matthews said.

Mike Brown, a manager at the Seneca-Cayugas’ casino, said the craps game there is based on cards, and dice are tossed “more for show.” Brown said the game has been available for six months and roulette has been offered for three months.

A sign below the craps table indicated a minimum bet of $2 and a maximum of $100. Three female employees worked at the table. One put chips on numbers chosen by players; another gathered dice with a hooked stick. The third handed pieces of paper to losing gamblers entitling them to enter a drawing where the casino offered prizes.