Californians to vote on casino expansion

According to a leading authority on gaming law, aboriginal tribes in California have been spending more money than ever before in the run up to a vote next month on whether to allow casino expansion.

Professor Nelson Rose stated that voters will decide on new compacts that would see four of California’s tribes able to offer players up to 5,500 additional slot machines in return for sharing up to one-quarter of gaming revenues with the state. If passed, the legislation would see these tribes able to operate casinos with 7,500 slot machines and an unlimited number of table games, twice as large as the largest casino in Las Vegas.

California voters first approved tribal gaming in 1998 under an initiative written and funded by the state’s tribes. After being overturned by the California Supreme Court, voters again approved aboriginal gambling in 2000.

In late 2006, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced deals with certain tribes that would allow them to expand their operations. However, opponents and unions soon cried foul as they felt the new proposals did not provide suitable regulations or adequately protect workers’ rights, even after a compromise agreement was agreed with the four tribes.

In order to defeat the agreements, leading casino workers’ union Unite Here and two of the state’s largest racetracks, Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows, filed papers with the State Attorney General’s Office asking for a February 5 vote on the new compacts. Now California voters will decide whether to expand casino gambling in the state.

“Individual tribes in California have been known to write checks for USD 20 million to defeat voter initiatives they do not like,” said Rose. “But there may be rich gaming tribes on both sides of this campaign. The four tribes who would benefit from these compacts have some very powerful tribal casinos as their direct competitors.”