Monday, June 12, 2006

They Can Look, But We Must Say No!

This article from Todd Milbourn of the Sacramento Bee shows how the unrestricted Indian Gaming rules will continue to get out of control unless we insist on changes.

Tribes look far afield for casino sites
Bills in Congress could block the trend and rewrite gaming rules.

An Indian tribe rooted in Lake County is pushing a Las Vegas-style casino in the East Bay.

Tribes from Humboldt and San Diego counties are vying to open casinos along busy Interstate 15 in Barstow.

And a tribe from Oklahoma is searching beyond its reservation -- even across state lines -- to build a casino near Denver.

Across the country, Indian tribes, often backed by wealthy investors, are aspiring to build casinos in lucrative markets -- even if those spots bear little or no historic connection to the tribe.

The trend is often assailed as "reservation shopping." It's stoking a national debate that might reshape the $20 billion-a-year Indian gaming industry.

Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are leading the charge to corral the practice. Both argue that some tribes and their non-Indian backers are simply trying to get rich off a law intended to alleviate tribal poverty.

"This is not what the public thought they were getting when they approved Indian gaming," said Alison Harvey, executive director of the California Tribal Business Alliance, a Sacramento-based tribal gambling association that generally opposes off-reservation gaming. "It's coming to a head."

California already is the nation's largest Indian gambling state, home to 55 casinos that generate $13 billion a year, according to the state attorney general.

Across the state, at least 40 tribes are proposing off-reservation casinos, according to Stand Up for California, a Penryn-based gambling watchdog group.

Almost all of those proposals face long odds -- even under current law. Even so, opponents of casino expansion are paying close attention, recalling that tribal gambling interests have proved adept at finding loopholes... (edited)

...On the state level, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, is pushing to give communities more say over casinos.

She said the East Bay has become the nation's "poster child" for urban, off-reservation gambling.

"They do produce some jobs," Hancock said of urban casinos. "But if you have a $100 million profit at a casino, most of that is coming out of the pockets of local people. About 35 percent of it is going to investors in Las Vegas or Florida, and the rest is not being distributed in the community."

For the full, unedited text of this article, please CLICK HERE.