Column: Indian gaming comes down to one thing -- money

Columnist on the state of Indian gaming in California, including tribal opposition to an off-reservation casino for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians:
Money flowing through Sacramento lately can mean only one thing: Gambling is front and center again in the Capitol.

There's lots of talk of tribal sovereignty, reclaiming history and preserving ways of life. Important though all that is, the fight comes down to money, as gambling always does.

Wealthy Indian tribes that already have a monopoly on profitable slot machines in California have developed a far-reaching and self-serving proposal to legalize Internet poker in California.

More immediately, existing casino tribes are battling to block a poor tribe, the North Fork Rancheria, from winning final approval for a casino along Highway 99 in Madera.

The California Senate could vote as early as next week on the compact that would transform the hardscrabble Mono Indian band by authorizing a casino with 2,000 slot machines.

"What it boils down is competition," Elaine Bethel Fink, chairwoman of the 1,984-member North Fork Rancheria, told me.

Get the Story:
Dan Morain: In casino debate, it's all about competition (The Sacramento Bee 5/22)

Related Stories
North Fork Rancheria's off-reservation compact due for vote (5/21)

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