Editorial: Decision makes California play fair with tribal casinos

"Not long after he took office in 2003, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger offered Indian tribes a deal his administration believed was a win for both sides: They could add hundreds of slot machines to their casinos if they paid a double-digit percentage of their earnings to the state's general fund. Although some tribes leaped at the offer, generating about $350 million a year for the state, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians argued that it amounted to an unlawful tax.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed last year, and on Monday the Supreme Court declined to hear the state's challenge to that ruling. The court's move could exacerbate California's budget problems, but it's a narrow and appropriate reading of the law.

When the Rincon Band sought to amend its compact to add more slot machines, the Schwarzenegger administration offered a deal that was, by the state's own calculation, heavily tilted in its favor: Of the $40 million in annual revenue generated by the 900 additional slot machines, $38 million would go to the state. The only "concession" offered by the administration was a promise that the Rincon Band wouldn't have to compete with non-tribal casinos, a guarantee the state Constitution already provided."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Play fair with Indian casinos (The Los Angeles Times 6/28)

9th Circuit Decision:
Rincon Band v. Schwarzenegger (April 20, 2010)

Related Stories:
Supreme Court won't hear Rincon Band gaming compact case (6/27)
DOJ submits brief to Supreme Court in Rincon gaming case (5/25)
Rincon Band compact case still pending at Supreme Court (5/23)
Supreme Court asks DOJ for views in Rincon Band compact case (12/14)