West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise signed a bill last week legalizing video poker machines, allowing slot machine gambling for the first time in the state’s history.
Expanded gambling is expected to raise $72 million in taxes a year. West Virginia has had illegal, or so-called "gray market," video gaming devices operating for years. The state has some 13,500 of the machines.
The bill authorizes 9,000 machines to operate in bars and facilities run by fraternal organizations.
In a report released last week the Missouri Gaming Commission said the number of people visiting St. Louis riverboat casinos is dropping.
However, the report said the amount of money being left behind by casino patrons is increasing.
Last month, gamblers lost $61.3 million, 7 percent more than the previous year. The amount of visitors, about 1 million, was down compared with April’s 1.1 million.
Caesar and Cleo
An actor who played Caesar at Caesars Indiana is suing parent company Park Place Entertainment for $45 million, claiming he was wrongfully fired for sexually harassing the woman who played Cleopatra.
Bobbie Trimble, who played Cleopatra, accused Oglesby of grabbing her shoulder and screaming into her ear. The alleged incident cost Joshua Oglesby his job. Oglesby says the casino didn’t fully investigate the facts. He was awarded $750,000 by a local court. He is now suing in federal court.
Park Place denies any wrongdoing.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians in Michigan to force the state to negotiate a gaming compact.
The problem, the judge said, is the tribe does not have federally recognized land in the state. States are only compelled to negotiate with tribes with lands taken into trust by the federal government for gaming purposes, the judge said.
State-tribal gaming compacts are required by federal law as a prerequisite for Indian casinos.
Alabama bill dies
A bill in the Alabama House of Representatives that advocated expanding gaming in the state was laid to rest last week.
The bill, if passed, would have attempted to shut down thousands of illegal machines currently operating in arcades throughout the state while allowing dog tracks to have an unlimited number of the devices with unlimited cash prizes.
The bill was removed from the floor by a motion from House Speaker Seth Hammett. In doing so, Hammett effectively killed the bill. With only one week remaining in the legislative calendar, it is unlikely the bill will re-emerge until next year.
Expanded gambling faces stiff opposition from religious groups and many legislators.
Results of a recent poll show Texans divided on whether to legalize casino gambling. The Scripps Howard survey showed 48 percent of Texans in favor of casinos and 44 percent opposed. Forty-five percent want to ban video slots that award non-cash prizes, while 42 percent said they should be legal. More Texans oppose slots that pay cash, according to the poll, with 49 percent against and 42 percent in favor.
Little bit country
The Academy of Country Music named Sam’s Town Gambling Hall in Tunica, Miss., as "Casino of the Year."
It marks the first time the award was given to a casino outside Las Vegas.
The award is given to those who help promote the country music industry. Eligibility for the award requires buying or promoting 20 concerts or more during the course of a year. Sam’s Town has been a major venue in the region for country performers.
Tribes get funds
Sixty-eight of California’s poorer Indian tribes and non-gaming tribes will receive $10.1 million in funds from Indian casinos under a revenue-sharing plan.
The funds have been a source of controversy. About $39 million is being withheld by the state, which is demanding more information from gaming tribes about their slot machine operations. The tribes and the state are disputing the numbers of machines allowed Indian tribes under state law. The revenue-sharing money is derived from slot winnings.
The money is designed to aid tribes that have fewer than 350 slots or none at all. Payments under the $10.1 million authorization will range from $100,000 to $150,000 per tribe.