California | Compacts
BIA publishes approval of 'Big Four' compacts

The Class III gaming compacts for four California tribes are being published in the Federal Register today.

The "Big Four" compacts are for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Nation. The agreements allow the tribes to add up to 17,000 new slot machines to their facilities in exchange for a share of the revenues.

Opponents of the compacts gathered enough signatures to put them to a vote in February 2008. But publication in the Federal Register means they are legal and fully binding.

Earlier this month, George Skibine, the number two at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, said he would delay publication of the compacts amid concerns about the review process. Somehow, the four compacts never got to his desk until it was too late -- so he was forced to "deem" them approved because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gives the BIA 45 days to review compacts and the time period had already run up.

If a compact is approved by the BIA, subsequent action at the state level -- such as a voter referendum -- might not have an effect. In New York, the Oneida Nation's Class III compact was invalidated by the state courts but the BIA said it couldn't take action because the agreement had already been published in the Federal Register.

In related news, one of the main figures in the compact was named press secretary of the California State Lottery. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) appointed Al Lundeen -- who has been a spokesperson for No on the Unfair Gambling Deals -- this week.

Related Story:
?Anti-compact spokesman named press secretary for lottery (Capitol Weekly 12/13)

Federal Register Notices:
Agua Caliente | Morongo Band | Pechanga Band | Sycuan Band