Column: Compact fight looms large in California

"The rather odd and often prickly relationship between the state of California and the state's casino-owning Indian tribes, as it always does, is looming large as the Legislature cranks up anew.

Money -- big money -- lies at the center of that relationship, not surprisingly. When the state's 200,000 Indians were impoverished residents of isolated rural reservations and rancherias, California politicians ignored them. But when they won the legal right to conduct bingo games and then bootstrapped that authority, somewhat dubiously, into full-fledged casinos generating billions of dollars in gambling action, politicians began paying attention.

The casino tribes function on a day-to-day basis as private corporations but insisting, all the while, that they are sovereign governments -- cleverly dancing between the two roles when it is to their advantage and becoming huge political players.

When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration negotiated new state compacts with five of the largest Southern California casino tribes that would sharply expand slot machines and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenues for the state, their neither-fish-nor-fowl status came to the fore."

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Dan Walters: Once again, the tribes loom large (The Sacramento Bee 2/5)