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Experts Question Indian Gaming Props

Posted: January 28, 2008 4:05 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2008 2:02 a.m.
As the Presidential Primary Election quickly approaches, there is more at stake on the Feb. 5 ballot than presidential nominations.

Also on the ballot on Super Tuesday are four propositions that amend Indian gaming compacts in California. Officially on the ballot as Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97, the four ballot measures would allow up to 25,000 new slot machines to be added at five Southern California casinos on tribal lands should each measure be approved by voters.
Experts on state financial matters and gambling issues pointed out that the four propositions are unfavorable to California's taxpayers and "Sweetheart Deals" for the Big 4 tribes.
"Despite the promises the Big 4 tribes used to woo the Legislature and are currently using to entice voters, the fact is these measures won't make a dent in the budget deficit facing California," said Lenny Goldberg, president of the California Tax Reform Association.
Goldberg cautioned that taxpayers may never see the money from the casino deals. Revenue from the casinos to the state is contingent upon stated revenue at each casino. He explained that the language of the amended compacts would allow the tribes to be the only ones who would know actual revenue at their casinos. In turn, the tribes would then be able to report revenue to the state without any outside independent accounting of the tribes' books.
According to Goldberg, such language allows the tribes to decide how much money they give to the state. He stated that the state can look at the tribes' math and check the addition, but it can't go back and check the books that the math is based on.
"These tribes have been on a single-minded mission to expand their gambling operations," said Cheryl Schmidt, founder and director of Stand Up for California, the state's leading citizen gambling watchdog organization.
The Big 4 gambling deals are with the Pechanga, Morongo, Agua Caliente and Sycuan tribes.
For more information on these and other propositions on the Feb. 5 ballot, including proposition summaries, fiscal impact and statutory analysis, please visit


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