Technology changing fast for Indian gaming, too

James Maida , head of Gaming Laboratories International, took stock. SUZETTE PARMLEY / Staff
James Maida , head of Gaming Laboratories International, took stock. SUZETTE PARMLEY / Staff
Posted: October 06, 2012

LAS VEGAS - A former New Jersey gaming regulator, who now runs the world's largest independent gaming-equipment testing lab, said new technology is impacting tribal casino operators as much as those who run U.S. commercial gambling halls.

"In Indian gaming, new technology is not always born out of innovation," said James Maida, president and chief executive officer of Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) in Lakewood, N.J., during a panel discussion Thursday, the final day of the Global Gaming Conference here. "It's born out of necessity."

Maida, who worked as a regulator for the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement in the mid-1980s, was among the speakers who focused on the 25 years since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act went into effect. The landmark legislation allowed Native American tribes to operate casinos on their land. Maida began testing equipment for the tribes in 1989.

Tony Sanchez Jr., president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which operates the Hard Rock-branded casinos there, said: "The games and the business will continue to evolve. You have to ask yourself, 'What is the next thing?' "

Sanchez noted the likely emergence of Internet gaming, which Congress and several states are considering legalizing. This year, Nevada became the first state to legalize and regulate online poker. Game manufacturers have begun to develop products for I-gaming, some of which were on view at the Sands Expo and Convention Center showroom this week.

"How are we going to enter the market?" Sanchez asked. "How will we regulate it? How will we form compacts on it? All are issues on the horizon. At the end of the day, we are all competing for the entertainment dollar and maintaining market share."

Maida, considered a pioneer in the gambling industry as the first to test games for Native American tribes, said a half-dozen states - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, Connecticut, California, and Florida - altered the gaming landscape in their respective regions.

"The Pequots in Connecticut transformed gaming on the East Coast," Maida said, referring to the tribe that owns and operates the sprawling Foxwoods Casino Resort there. Foxwoods opened in 1992; in-state rival Mohegan Sun, owned by the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, arrived four years later.

The two massive casinos, Maida said, broke Atlantic City's monopoly on East Coast gambling, and ultimately led to the proliferation of gaming in other Eastern states, including West Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland.

The Mohegans were granted a license last month by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission to manage and own 10 percent of Resorts Casino, the first tribe to enter the Atlantic City market.

Maida said he started GLI in his garage in 1987. It has since become an international company that lists 228 tribes from 265 casinos as clients and conducts tests for more than 500 jurisdictions globally. The company, which tests more than 95 percent of the world's gaming equipment, made 115 hires this year, he said.


Contact Suzette Parmley at 215-854-2855 or sparmley@phillynews.com.

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