A change in gaming took place as "ball and dice" gaming officially rolled into play on Monday, Aug. 20, in Delaware County.
Shortly after 2 p.m., the first players stepped up and made their first wagers at the roulette and craps tables at Cherokee Casino and Hotel West Siloam Springs.
The casino, located in rural Delaware County, near the Arkansas state line, is one of three Cherokee properties to initiate traditional ball and dice gaming on Monday.
Officials with Cherokee Nation’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, began operating the two games at 2 p.m., with officials in West Siloam Springs following thereafter.
Officials with Cherokee Casino and Hotel Roland began offering roulette games on Monday.
Tony Nagy, general manager of Cherokee Nation Entertainment, said officials at the Roland property anticipate rolling out craps games in the near future.
Monday was the first time anyone in Oklahoma could legally play those two games the traditional way - with balls and dice.
The change came as amendments to the state’s gaming compact took effect. At least 10 other tribes have entered into similar agreements with the state, with plans to offer craps and roulette.
Prior to this week, Cherokee Casino properties - including the one in West Siloam Springs - offered a version of craps and roulette that used cards instead of actual balls and dice.
Nagy said providing the traditional form of these two games changes the playing field for people in Oklahoma.
Instead of traveling out-of-state, to casinos in Las Vegas or Tunica, Nagy said players of the traditional "ball and dice" games will now have local options.
"We're thrilled to add this to our floor," Nagy said. "I think this will let us compete with our surrounding markets."
He said the two games will also give the casino, which has a resort-type setting, another option for branding.
Nagy has added one traditional roulette game and one traditional craps game to the casino's gaming floor.
The card-based games remain, but will eventually be phased out in favor of the traditional play.
"Historically, craps is the most popular table game out there," Nagy said, adding that many players like the "edge" and "the odds" of the game.
In order to install the craps table, Nagy said casino officials needed to remove three blackjack tables.
"It has a massive footprint," Nagy said.
Because of the size of both games, Nagy does not envision officials will add either to the Cherokee Casino Grove floor at this time.
"Grove would have to expand or re-think its layout," Nagy said, adding it would take up the space of at least 40 to 50 slot machines on Grove's gaming floor.
Nagy said adding the two games would give players coming to West Siloam Springs an additional option for play.
"This provides true, Vegas-style of traditional games," Nagy said. "It's fun and exciting."
Nagy said aside from blackjack, craps and roulette games are the top table games requested or offered at Cherokee Casinos.
The traditional forms of roulette and craps are also interactive. Nagy said people are naturally drawn to watch the game because of the players - and dealers - excitement.
"It changes the entire atmosphere of the floor," Nagy said. "It's os large, with so much action. It naturally creates curiosity with our guests.
"You can't fully appreciate it, until you see it. There's so much going on, it's mind-boggling."
Nagy said at least 50 dealers spent 250 hours of training in order to roll out the games at the three Cherokee Nation properties.
Three dealers are needed to run the craps table at the West Siloam Springs location at any given time.
For now, casino officials will offer craps and roulette from 4 p.m. to midnight Mondays to Thursday, and from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., on Friday and Saturday. Other times may be added, depending upon customer demands.