Column: Tribal warfare over compacts in California

"Even with the current housing slump, a paltry $1.6 million still won’t buy you much of a house on the Westside. Maybe an older 3 + 2 with a fiberglass carport. Better to invest your money in Sacramento, where the same tidy sum can buy you an entire legislative house — in this case, the California state Senate, packed wall to wall with senators ready to serve your every desire. A million six is how much a conglomerate of wealthy Indian gambling tribes spent on recent campaign contributions to key members of the state Democratic leadership, and it garnered an almost instant return.

With little media notice, and certainly with no real public debate, the state Senate fast-tracked a package of five new gambling deals with California’s richest tribes and overwhelmingly voted 22-10 to approve them last week.

These deals, if ratified by the Assembly, would constitute one of the largest expansions of legalized gambling in the history of America, opening the floodgates to tens of thousands of new slot machines (added to our current state fleet of 60,000), and would pave the way for a number of new Nevada-class casinos. All these goodies would be showered on the handful of California tribes already marinating in millions of annual gambling dollars, so one thing’s for sure: This has nothing to do with giving a helping hand to poor, underprivileged Native Americans. The California Indian gaming industry now takes in more than $7 billion in revenue, outstripping the collective intake of Las Vegas Strip casinos."

Get the Story:
Marc Cooper: Tribal Warfare (LA Weekly 4/26)