The Chickasaw Nation, a tribe with territory in southern Oklahoma, became only the third tribe to win approval from the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) for “alternate standards” related to Class II gaming.
The approval means that the tribe has successfully formulated its own set of security standards for bingo games played on mobile devices.
“I would like to congratulate the Nation on achieving this milestone, one that’s rare within the Tribal gaming community,” NIGC Chairman Sequoyah Simermeyer said in a statement about the approval. “As Class II mobile gaming becomes a larger part of an operation’s offerings, we’re excited the Nation has taken this step for the potential economic opportunity it offers, and acknowledge the hard work that got them to this point.”
The Chickasaw Nation hasn’t said when the games will be available.
How Class II gaming standards work for the Chickasaw Nation
“Alternate standards” refers to a tribe’s in-house rules for Class II gaming. These standards must meet stringent federal laws that standardize Class II gaming in an effort to make it safe and secure:
- Gaming systems may not cheat or mislead players
- The software and gaming equipment installed at a gaming facility must be identical to the approved by the government
- Equipment must work according to the manufacturer’s intent
- Gaming systems must undergo testing at a laboratory
- Repairs to machines must follow a specific protocol
- Modifications to machines must be approved
Additionally, the rules cover all kinds of equipment-related specs such as circuit boards, electrostatic discharge, and player interfaces. The benefit of Class II gaming for tribal authorities like the Chickasaw Nation is that they don’t have to form a compact with a state to offer it.
That’s significant for tribal gaming authorities within Oklahoma because current Gov. Kevin Stitt has a fraught relationship with such authorities.
The standards are pretty complicated. However, they ensure that gaming is safe and regulated no matter where it happens. All tribes have to meet the standards if they want to launch Class II gaming.
How alternate standards play a role in Class II regulation
In some cases, tribes will work with the NIGC to adopt their own rules. These in-house standards are referred to as “alternate standards.” Tribes may adopt their alternate standards for various reasons.
Doing so is a big undertaking. The tribe has to work with the NIGC to make it happen. It can take up to a year to develop the standards. NIGC IT Audit Manager Tim Cotton said in a statement that the process is an “arduous endeavor.”
“It was an honor to work side-by-side with the Nation on alternative standards,” Cotton said. “At times it can be an arduous endeavor to align technology with regulatory standards, and I’m proud to have worked closely with Tribal regulators to elevate and further refine controls and protect tribal assets.”
Why Chickasaw alternate standards matter to Oklahoma
Simply put, the news about the Chickasaw’s Class II standards is significant because it affects more than 10% of Oklahoma land.
The tribe’s land covers 7,600 square miles. The new standards will affect any Class II gaming that takes place on that land.