Rincon Chair: States hold tribes hostage for compact

"By stacking the deck against tribal governments when negotiating casino compacts, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was gambling that he could violate federal law with impunity. He bet he could hold the tribes hostage by our need to engage in gaming as our only means to economic development. But, it appears this is one bet he may lose.

The United States District Court has ruled that the governor’s negotiation tactics with California’s gaming tribes are illegal and constitute bad faith. The state appealed to the 9th Circuit Appeals Court and a decision is expected soon that may change the way governors throughout the nation negotiate. It may also halt the trend of holding tribes hostage to state politics and charging increasingly higher fees as a condition for signing compacts.

The lawsuit, brought by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians of San Diego, alleged Schwarzenegger imposed an illegal and unfair tax on gaming revenues in return for tribal state compact agreements.

The case is precedent setting because until the Rincon v. Schwarzenegger decision no federal court has ever squarely addressed the reach of federal laws against taxing tribal governments in tribal state compacts."

Get the Story:
Bo Mazetti: Rincon decision could change compact negotiation (Indian Country Today 2/22)