Well known as the man who led the expulsion of 164 members of his tribe, Pala Chairman Robert Smith tries to tell Californians what to do. See if he'd accept Californian's telling HIS TRIBE what to do.
Preserving sovereignty and maintaining our commitment to California’s voters should be the first priority when discussing online gaming — an issue that continues to raise its head in both the state Legislature and in Congress.
Remember, CA is a sovereign state too. Tribes can preserve sovereignty too, but if they want a part of Internet Gaming, they should prepare to lose either sovereignty, or onling gaming rights.
Creating an opportunity for businesses to operate poker, slot machines and other Class 3 gaming online has been an issue for several years because corporations large and small smell the potential payday that could follow. But we cannot be shortsighted with regard to opening up this industry. We must methodically develop and implement public policy that is smart, thoughtful and well-researched.
In addition to the legal and logistical issues regarding player protections and integrity involved in online gaming, questions swirl around the mechanics and impacts of the online industry. Questions like who will be licensed to provide the games? Which games should be included? What will be the impacts on brick and mortar casinos? What impacts will California’s social service programs feel, given that state set-asides from casinos currently fund a number of state programs that serve poor children and the elderly?
Player protections? Do we even KNOW what the payouts are at tribal casinos? There are no player or employee protection from smoke filled casinos either. Smith didn't consider the impact on social services when he eliminated tribal members did he?
For years, Indian Country has raised grave concerns about online gaming. On its face, it violates compacts tribes have with the state, it is contrary to voter-approved constitutional measures that limit gaming, and it creates a direct threat to tribal sovereignty by undermining the revenue source that funds tribal operations and social services. OP: The direct threat to tribal sovereignty does NOT depend on gaming. If Smith was so concerned about sovereignty threat, he'd be pushing for EVERY tribe in CA to have gaming, but he isn't, he's worried about his own tribal business.
But in today’s environment, several states — most of which do not have a tribal presence — are desperately cobbling together laws that will open the doors to online gaming, thereby creating pressure on California to create reciprocal agreements with those licensees to provide an online presence.
And in response, a number of legislative proposals have been floated. But none of those proposals have sufficiently answered the basic questions regarding player protections and integrity, much less gaming mechanics and impacts on Native Americans.
As such, it has become abundantly clear that the only way California is going to see meaningful consensus on rational Internet gaming legislation that is respectful of tribal issues is to develop a proposal ourselves, as a collaborative of individual tribes with common interests.
To that end, eight California tribes, including the California Tribal Business Alliance’s member tribes — Pala Band of Luiseño Indians, Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians, Lytton Rancheria — recently circulated a draft copy of the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act 2013 to tribal leaders throughout the state, requesting feedback on the language.
The language begins to spell out what provisions and protections California tribes are looking for, including strong controls, tight regulations, and provisions that protect our people.
For tribes, online gaming is a high-stakes discussion because of the huge impacts it could have on Indian Country. Native American casinos are uniquely responsible for providing the revenues that sustain many tribes — providing jobs, health care and housing in a manner that protects our sovereignty and promotes self-reliance.
By recklessly establishing an online gaming capacity in California that has not been measured against brick and mortar enterprises, tribal leaders are concerned livelihoods will be threatened. We believe a collaborative approach is the right way to go. But until a consensus is reached, it is imperative that legislators push for methodical, smart, well-researched gaming bills that will promote a prosperous California in the long-term.
Robert Smith is chairman of the California Tribal Business Alliance (THREE TRIBES!) and chair of the Pala Band of Luiseño Indians. He deserves to be treated with scorn and derision, not respect.
Learn MORE about they type of tribe Robert Smith runs:Pala Disenrollments
Pala Disenrolls families