Column: Most tribes won't benefit from gaming

"Twenty years ago this month, the Cabazon and Morongo tribes were running exceedingly modest bingo halls, fueled as much by hope for a better future as by bettors' dollars.

Today, they're running not only full-fledged casinos replete with slot machines and blackjack tables, but opulent hotel resorts complete with amenities that range from bowling alleys to artificial rivers.

Lost in all this hoping is that most California Indians have seen very little of the casinos' bounty.

Generally relegated to the boondocks after their land was stolen, many tribes have no realistic hope of opening a financially viable casino.

True, the gambling tribes that signed the state's first wave of compacts in 1999 agreed to pay up to $1.1 million a year to non-casino tribes. But inflation has eroded that by 20 percent in the last eight years, even while the casino tribes' revenues have exploded.

So here's what I hope. I hope that before the guv and the labor leaders and the legislators start lining up at the trough for their share of the Indian gambling goodies, they let the non-casino Indians cut in line.

That's what I hope. But I wouldn't bet on it."

Get the Story:
Steve Wiegand: Many pin their hopes on casinos (The Sacramento Bee 2/15)