Interior approves amendments to gaming compact

Amendments to the Grand Ronde Tribe’s 2006 gaming compact with the state of Oregon that will allow Spirit Mountain Casino to offer games appealing to younger customers received official approval from the federal government on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Tribal Council approved the amendments on Sept. 13 and then the proposed amendments were forwarded to the Department of the Interior for approval per provisions outlined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act regarding Class III gaming.

The amendments include an update of the definition of “video lottery terminal” to broaden its meaning, which will allow Spirit Mountain Casino to offer more interactive slot machines as they change over time. Games that include an element of skill also will be allowed under the amendment.

“Hopefully this definition will not need to be amended in order to accomplish our obtaining those machines,” Senior Staff Attorney Deneen Aubertin Keller said during the Sept. 12 Legislative Action Committee meeting.

Spirit Mountain Gaming Commission Executive Director Michael Boyce said during the Sept. 12 meeting that the new video lottery terminal definition will “allow for any game we could foresee in the future. It’s a pretty wide-open definition. … From what we can see in the future, this will allow the casino to offer those games.”

The Tribal Attorney’s Office has been working with the state to amend the compact for two years to deal with the changing technology, Tribal Attorney Rob Greene said in September.

Grand Ronde becomes the first Pacific Northwest Tribe to update its definition of a video lottery terminal to accommodate the new machines hitting the market that are not available in Washington state, giving Spirit Mountain Casino a potential edge in the Pacific Northwest.

“It’s a real competitive advantage for us at this point in time,” Greene said.

“I’m sure the other Tribes are going to greatly appreciate this because we have done all of the hard work,” Tribal Council member Denise Harvey said. “Now this is something they can model, which will be much easier for them.”