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United States v. 162 MegaMania Gambling Devices

ELR Citation: 31 ELR 20242
Nos. No. 99-5064, 231 F.3d 713/(10th Cir., 10/31/2000)

The court holds that a variation of the game bingo, known as MegaMania, used on Native American land is an Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) Class II gambling device and, therefore, does not require state approval and is not an illegal gambling device under the Johnson Act. MegaMania is played on electronic stations located on Native American lands in Oklahoma and elsewhere. A game player must pay .25 cents per card to receive three numbers determined by a bingo blower and electronically transferred through a computer network. To receive further numbers, a player must pay more or "ante up." The game continues until straight bingo is won, or until an interim prize, known as CornerMania, is won. The tribes and the game operator retain 15% of the amount taken in by the machines. The court first holds that MegaMania meets the IGRA definition of a Class II bingo game. It is played with an electronic card that looks like a regular paper bingo card containing a grid of numbers, and the first person to cover a previously designated arrangement of numbers wins a monetary prize. Additionally, in order to win either MegaMania or CornerMania, the winners must defeat other players, not a machine. The house, in this case the tribes, is not a participant because it does not play a bingo card that players must beat, nor is it ever a winner in the game, despite the fact that it takes 15% of the money paid in. Further, the interim win feature of CornerMania does not convert the game into a Class III game that requires state approval because, as with other Class II games, MegaMania is won by the first person covering the designated arrangement, such interim prizes are a common part of bingo, and nothing in the IGRA prohibits interim prizes. Moreover, the "ante up" feature of MegaMania does not render it illegal because the statutory criteria of an IGRA Class II game does not contemplate pricing features. The court next holds that MegaMania is not a Class II electromechanical facsimile of bingo, but a technological aid allowed under IGRA Class II.

The full text of this decision is available from ELR (30 pp., ELR Order No. L-298).

Counsel for Plaintiff
Sean Connelly, U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
3460 U.S. CtHse.
333 W. 4th St., Tulsa OK 74103
(918) 581-7463

Counsel for Defendants
Tony M. Graham
Feldman, Franden, Woodard & Farris
1000 Park Centre
525 S. Main St., Tulsa OK 74103
(918) 583-7129