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Column: Wealthy tribes spend big to limit competition to casinos

Filed Under: California | Opinion
More on: california, elections, north fork, off-reservation, table mountain

Artist's rendering of the proposed North Fork Rancheria casino. Image from North Fork Casino Environmental Impact Statement

Rival tribes raised $22 million for the Proposition 48 campaign in hopes of stopping the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians from opening an off-reservation casino:
Studies show that wealthy special interests have limited success supporting ballot measures that would benefit them economically – but they do a lot better when it comes to defeating ballot measures that could hurt their pocketbook.

And that was demonstrated in full force by last month’s election results:

• Proposition 48 would have let two tribes without land run a casino on non-tribal land. Other casino interests weren’t keen on more competition and outspent the two small tribes and their friends 38-1. Leading the way with $11 million was the Table Mountain Rancheria, home of two tribes, 10 poker tables, 40 game tables and 2,000 slot machines.

Business interests have been trying to game the initiative process since at least 1912, when gambling and lottery interests first tried to use the system to expand their industry, according to an analysis by USC’s Initiative and Referendum Institute.

“However, after spending tens of millions of dollars over a 90-year period, the industry has managed to pass less than 25 percent of the initiatives they attempted,” according to the analysis. “This is why the industry has chosen not to pursue initiatives to expand their industry. They realize that money alone will not pass an initiative.”

Get the Story:
MARTIN WISCKOL Wealthy's economic interests drive defeat of state propositions (The Orange County Register 12/8)

Federal Register Notices:
Indian Gaming (October 22, 2013)
Land Acquisitions; North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California (December 3, 2012)

Bureau of Indian Affairs Documents:
Press Release | Fact Sheet: North Fork Rancheria Decision | Section 20 Determination: North Fork Rancheria

Related Stories:
North Fork Rancheria won't give up casino plans despite vote (11/06)

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