Not all tribal compacts created equal in California

Some California lawmakers are raising questions about provisions in new gaming compacts for eight California tribes.

Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, both Democrats, are concerned that five wealthy tribes with successful casinos received better deals than three tribes without gaming. As a result, both lawmakers have told the tribes that the compacts don't have enough votes to pass.

The deals for the Yurok Tribe, the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians have tough provisions on labor unions, independent audits, health and safety standards and other regulatory issues. But the ones for the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians don't have such language.

Representatives for the wealthy tribes defended their agreements. They said they reflect the ability of each sovereign nation to negotiate independently with the state.

“The wonder of these compacts has always been that the state and a tribe ought to be able to fashion an agreement that fits that unique situation,” Jacob Coin, the communications director for the San Manuel Band, told Copley News Service.

Lawmakers are set to debate the compacts in the coming month. But three tribes without gaming

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Troubling questions arise as tribal deals get closer look (Copley News Service 4/2)