Amendment to Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s gaming compact moving forward

BLYN — An amendment to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s gaming compact, which would allow the tribe to have another casino and for slot machines to share jackpots with others across the country, is moving forward.

The state Gambling Commission approved the gaming compact last Thursday and now it awaits signatures from Tribal Chair Ron Allen, Gov. Jay Inslee and the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

At this point the tribe has no plans to add another casino and instead wants to focus on 7 Cedars Casino, Allen said Sunday.

Another casino is “not anywhere in the near future,” he said. “Our focus is on the resort, to dress up our current property in Blyn.”

Allen said the tribe pushed for the provision though because it has been offered to many other tribes in the state and the tribe wants to keep its options open.

“We never know; 20 years down the road and things might change,” he said. “We just wanted to have that option open.”

Another key change to the compact is a provision that will allow the tribe to use “wide area progressive” machines, meaning slot machines could share jackpots with machines in other casinos across the country.

The tribe would be the first in the state to have such machines, Allen said.

“That allows the tribe to solicit machines that are progressive and tied to machines all over Indian Country,” he said, adding it increases the amount someone could potentially win if they hit a jackpot.

He said a number of the changes in the compact were to “modernize” the compact.

He said that many of the provisions the tribe thought were needed when it signed its first compact in 1993 are no longer needed.

The new compact amendment is “intended to reflect modernized regulatory practices, reduce duplication between Tribal and State regulators and clarify the roles of each party,” according to the amendment.

This is the sixth amendment to the compact.

“We cleaned a lot of those provisions and provided clarity that the tribe is the primary regulator and the state is the second regulator,” he said.

An example of the changes is the registration process for employees.

Employees are currently certified through the state and have to renew their certification every year, which Allen said is costly for employees.

Under the new provisions, the state certification is thrown out and replaced with “registration verification,” allowing the tribe to license its employees and register them with the state. Those licenses would be renewed every three years.

Criminal record checks would still be done annually, he said.

“We’ll check to make sure that they continue to be eligible [for employment],” he said.

The amendment also incorporates the tribe’s current internal controls as the minimum operating standards.

Tribal gaming agents also wouldn’t be required to be at the casino during all hours of operations.

He said that under current rules agents are required to be present even at times that didn’t make sense.

An example, he said, is that agents are required to be there when a machine is opened and a chip is changed.

“They don’t need to be there,” he said. “We’re removing a lot of excessive functions that were meaningless, but end up being costly.”

Allen said the new compact reflects a “long process” and shows a change in the cultural relationship between the tribal and state governments and also reflect an increase of trust in the tribe.

“We’re delighted we made this step,” he said.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected] dailynews.com.

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