Given the Lakewood gambling initiative on this year’s ballot I thought you might find of interest the rule changes being pursued by the minicasino industry – the Gambling Commission will vote on these changes Friday at the Spokean Commission meeting.
Washington State Gambling Commission
Proposed Rule Changes
The Washington State Gambling Commission will consider several proposed rule changes at the October 9-10 meeting in Spokane. These rule changes, described below, constitute an unlawful expansion of gambling and should therefore be denied.
Two rule changes will be discussed at the Commission‚Äôs October meeting;
- Allowing Mini-Baccarat, and
- Increasing the number of players permitted at house-banked tables.
Both of these rule changes fundamentally alter State gambling policy and open the door to a new class of gambling in State licensed card rooms. They also constitute an expansion of gambling, which requires a legislative 2/3 majority vote, and are therefore beyond the purview of the Commission.
A proposed rule change would allow Mini-Baccarat to be played in commercial card rooms. Under current rules, players must have their own hand of cards and all players must compete on an equal basis. This restriction is in keeping with long-standing State gambling policy of permitting social card games. In contrast with current rules, this rule change specifically (1) exempts players from the requirement that they receive their own hand of cards; (2) allows games to be played with cards other than a standard deck, and (3) allows side bets between players. These changes open the door to a new class of gambling such as craps style card games and other games wherein players do not make decisions based on their own hand. When a similar rule change was brought before the Commission in 2003 it was denied because it was deemed an unlawful ‚Äúexpansion of gambling.‚Äù
Increasing the number of players permitted at house-banked tables
A related rule change would increase the number of players permitted at house-banked card tables. The stated reason for this proposed change is to allow players to wager on multiple hands, make possible the development of new games such as Baccarat and add players without incurring the cost of opening a new table. However, just as in the case of the proposed rule change to allow Mini-Baccarat, this rule represents a significant policy change and would constitute an unlawful expansion of gambling. The State Legislature capped the number of allowed gambling tables at 15 per establishment. Increasing the number of players permitted per table from seven to nine is the functional equivalent of adding 4 tables per establishment. In addition, this rule raises numerous regulatory concerns, as more crowded tables would increase the opportunity for player cheating and increase the money in play for each hand.
Electronic Gambling Devices
The Commission will also consider a petition submitted by PokerTek, a national corporation that manufactures and distributes electronic gambling devices, to authorize electronic poker gambling tables for use in card rooms. This electronic gambling device allows gamblers to play poker without a central dealer and uses electronic facsimiles of cards and poker chips. Used in large casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, this device has raised concerns among many casino employees about their job security. Approval of this petition would represent the first introduction of self-functioning electronic gambling device in State licensed card rooms. In 2004, Washington voters rejected self-functioning electronic gambling for State licensed card rooms by an overwhelming margin.
This position paper reflects the author’s opinion, although the Commission did deny the rule allowing mini-baccarat in 2003 saying at that time it was an expansion of gambling. Mr. Fatland is a public affairs consultant and has as a client the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. “I was very involved in the campaign that defeated I-892 several years ago – I thought given the initiative on the Lakewood ballot this November concerning mini-casinos your readers would be interetsed to see the kind of expansion the private gambling industry is pursuing,” The Commission agenda and the proposed rules are at the Commission’s web site.