Schwarzenegger Sells California Out to Gambling Casinos
by Kathryn Bowen
Whoever coined the phrase "Ignorance is bliss" must have been talking about the 35 million Californians trusting that their governor and their elected officials are actually doing their job with respect to gambling casinos run by Indian tribes in our state.
"Bliss" is what Governor Schwarzenegger has been selling the public while he sells the State down the river by granting the largest expansion of gambling in history to 5 casino tribes. 5,000 MORE machines each, to tribes that are eliminating Indians from tribes.
In the wake of Californian's support of Prop 1A, former Governor, Gray Davis, negotiated gambling compacts with Indian Tribes. Millions of voters succumbed to a brilliant marketing campaign that casino tribes invested nearly $100 Million into, equal to a presidential election, to persuade voters to change our State constitution and direct gambling monopolies to Indian tribes. I was one of those voters.
Here's the bad news.
At this moment, your elected representatives in California are just about to vote on whether to grant 5 casino tribes, consisting of just 1,876 people, the ability to expand willy-nilly despite the impact on our communities, families, children and ultimately the financial future of California. Now, Pechanga has eliminated 250 members and are keeping at least 500 more off their rolls where they rightfully belong.
This is just the beginning; 67 additional tribes with gaming compacts are waiting in the wings and the Governor may not inform the public when renegotiations commence with these tribes.
The reality is the revenue promised for the state through gambling expansion will not materialize. The Governor and his advisors know this and should probably buy a new calculator because they know the expected income is neither measurable nor enforceable!
Thousands of emails, letters, phone calls and exhaustive testimony attempting to alert our elected officials of endless issues regarding jurisdiction, regulation, accounting and disastrous social costs have fallen on deaf ears.
The reason for the hearing loss? Could it be the massive unregulated tribal contributions flowing into political campaigns of the majority of our elected officials in our State Capitol?
In fact, tribes poured $429,600 into the campaigns of just fifteen assembly members who held an "impartial" hearing on problematic regulatory issues with the compacts and will be key in deciding their fate. How impartial can they really be when taking money from the same tribes that will benefit from their vote? By any definition, this is a profound conflict of interest.
Making matters worse, the Minimum Internal Control Standards (MICS), the only federal regulatory leg left to oversee the integrity of the games and to collect the money, has been eliminated from the compacts.
What does this mean? These so-called compacts are really contracts that will cement a permanent partnership between the State of California and loosely regulated gambling casino tribes for the next 25-years, without the ability of the state to audit and collect the money or to ensure fair gaming for the patrons.
Casino tribes have kicked federal regulators off their land claiming sovereignty. What makes the state think its going to be any more successful especially given the fact there are simply not enough enforcement resources?
Moreover, Schwarzenegger privately brokered 25-year, multibillion dollar deals without so much as an economic study to show how expanded gambling will impact the people of California.
Given the fact that 80% percent of gambling revenue comes from households with incomes of less than $50,000 a year, don't you think you need a study to show what this spread of gambling is going to do to the state?
What kind of representative government balances its budget on the backs of its poorest and most vulnerable citizens? Even Russia and other countries around the world who believed that gambling actually produced economic vitality have come to their senses and banned or closed most of their casinos due to the economic strain caused to their economies.
Once again, our elected officials are going for the quick fix approach to fixing the state's budget problems instead of assessing the long-term effects of really bad policy.
What does California get? We all get to sit by and watch our regional economy redirect billions in disposable income (taxable sales) into "sovereign tribal governments" who are not bound by the U.S. Constitution, remain outside regulatory laws and pay no taxes on their $23 Billion profits.
This massive federal scandal's tentacles have found their way into every corner of our government through corrupt campaign finance loopholes. From the White House on down to local county governments who are faced with the dilemma of how to stand up to tribes who exploit their ancestral suffering to bully local governments into giving them what they want.
Wake up California!
The gaming tribes' plight no longer has anything to do with civil rights, justice or historical reparations, but rather with self-indulgent gambling expansion under the guise of self-determination.