Yesterday, Justice Kagan asked about what bingo is:
There seems to be dispute whether this type of bingo by machine is the same as the bingo we know, people in a room calling out numbers.p. 18, line 25 — p. 19, lines 1-3
In a colloquy with the tribe’s counsel, the Chief Justice also wondered aloud:
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: What would — what — what would you say it looks like?p. 22, lines 4-25 — p. 23, lines 1-11
MR. MARTIN: I would say it looks like an electronic bingo machine that has a bingo —
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: What makes it look like a bingo machine?
MR. MARTIN: Well, there’s a — let me
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: There’s a name on it that says bingo?
MR. MARTIN: Well, there’s actually a card and you can switch the cards by pushing a button to change the cards that you’re playing. Now, are there reels and lights that look — that would characterize —
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: Are there people —
MR. MARTIN: — people would characterize it — yes.
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: — calling out numbers and — people, somebody saying, you know, B-12 or —
MR. MARTIN: There — there in fact is part of our operations, Your Honor. My tribe’s operations is live-called bingo and it’s also one of the things the State of Texas —
CHIEF JUSTICE ROBERTS: But that’s something different than the slot — slot machine bingo, right?
MR. MARTIN: It is different than the electronic machines, Your Honor, but they’ve complained about all of it.
The law of these bingo slot machines has effectively been settled for nearly 20 years after the Supreme Court denied cert in a pair of petitions from the United States on this question (which later led to regulations that effectively codified the rulings from the courts below that the government lost):
What is Class II bingo, a Supreme Court Justice might ask? Well, the General Counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission is there to offer answers: