Suit against NIGC dismissed

AUSTIN, Texas ? A federal judge in Oklahoma on Sept. 10 dismissed a lawsuit against the National Indian Gaming Commission by electronic slot machine manufacturer Multimedia Games Inc. and three Indian tribes.

In his opinion, Judge James A. Payne of the Federal Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma said the court lacked jurisdiction to consider the complaint and that vendors have no standing to contest gaming classifications.

Multimedia sued NIGC in April after the regulator ruled that its' MegaNanza game, which is widely used in Indian casinos in Oklahoma and elsewhere, qualifies as a Class III gaming device. Since Oklahoma permits only Class II gaming, tribes there were forced to pull the game from play. Many decided to convert to Multimedia's ReelTime Bingo game, which falls under Class II.

"We expect more information to become available shortly regarding the appeal process, the preliminary injunction status, and any actions the NIGC might wish to take regarding MegaNanza," said Gordon Graves, the company's chairman and CEO, in a Sept. 11 press release. "The NIGC is presently in the middle of a transition process during which all three commissioners including the chairman, are being replaced with new appointees, and there will be no chairman in place until President Bush's nominee is confirmed. All of these factors are expected to influence the tribes' conversion plans."

In the meantime, Multimedia said it would continue to convert any remaining MegaNanza machines to the ReelTime Bingo game for any tribe requesting the change. The company said that some 1,000 ReelTime games are up and running at "numerous" gaming facilities.

On Sept. 10, Multimedia announced the installation of 60 ReelTime machines at the Yakama Tribe's new Class II gaming hall in Toppenish, Wash.

Multimedia, based in Austin, manufactures electronic gaming machines that are in play in Native-owned casinos and bingo halls around the country.