Leland McGee: Off-reservation gaming poses risk to all tribes

"Currently before the Interior Department are two California “off reservation” casino proposals that carry the support of California Governor Jerry Brown. These two tribes are being touted by Governor Brown as needing additional trust lands closer to urban population centers in order to develop more successful casino enterprises. If approved, these “off-reservation” projects would come at the financial detriment to existing tribal gaming enterprises operating under full compliance with California’s tribal gaming compact.

During historic negotiations over the California Tribal Gaming Compact nearly three decades ago, the consensus among California tribes was that some were better located to operate casinos, while others were not. Because of this, a revenue share allocation plan was implemented as part of that state-tribal compact, which provided a portion of tribal gaming revenue to those “non-gaming” tribes that either chose not to engage in gaming, or were too remotely located within the state to operate successful gaming enterprises. This arrangement has worked successfully for years in California, as well as in other states with similar circumstances.

So the question here is: why is Governor Brown now engaged in this issue? Does cutting a “special” deal with these two tribes for “off-reservation” casinos allow the governor to claim a greater stake in their operations than the current tribal-state compact allows for reservation-based operations? Maybe? It is common knowledge that the state of California is nearly bankrupt and desperately seeks revenue wherever it can be found, but this plan should not be part of the solution. Allowing a desperate governor to gain a waiver of Federal Indian gaming law as part of a fiscal bailout maneuver is wrong."

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Leland McGee: Attempted Tribal Casino Urbanization in California Is Dangerous (Indian Country Today 12/28)

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