California Tribal Gaming Compacts (2008)
|Voting on Gambling|
|Not on ballot|
The agreements were approved by the California State Legislature and signed into law by Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. The agreements, endorsed by California's voters on February 5, 2008, will last for 23 years.
Opponents of the four tribal gaming compacts are challenging each of them through the veto referendum process whereby California voters can nullify an act of the state legislature by collecting enough signatures to force new laws onto the ballot. Four successful petition drives and several court challenges later, each of the four gaming compacts will individually appear on the February 5, 2008 California special presidential primary election ballot--Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97.
Money pours into support the tribal compacts
The four tribes that stand to benefit from the compacts poured nearly $110 million into the Coalition to Protect California's Budget & Economy, which is the political committee supporting passage of the compacts. The tribes are required to submit their campaign finance activity because of a lawsuit stemming from 2001 and 2007 by the Fair Political Practices Commission which resulted in a settlement that the tribes would not be penalized if they agreed to publish the activity from then on.
|Tribe||Proposition it benefits from||Donations|
|Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians||Prop 94||$41,896,993|
|Morongo Band of Mission Indians||Prop 95||$37,875,177|
|Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation||Prop 96||$6,031,637|
|Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians||Prop 97||$20,865,025|
|Total from the four tribes:||$106,668,832|
1999 compacts versus proposed changes
|Tribe||Referendum||Authorizing statute|| $ to state
under 1999 compact
| # of slots
under 1999 compact
| Minimum $ to state
under new compact
| # of slots|
under new compact
|Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians||Prop 94||SB 903||$29 million||2,000||$44.5 million||7,500|
|Morongo Band of Mission Indians||Prop 95||SB 174||$29 million||2,000||$38.7 million||7,500|
|Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation||Prop 96||SB 175||$5 million||2,000||$23 million||5,000|
|Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians||Prop 97||SB 957||$13 million||2,000||$25.4 million||5,000|
Labor unions and other tribes
An additional factor that plays a large role in the political landscape surrounding the tribal gaming compacts has to do with labor union contracts under the gaming compacts. Some of the traditional unions in California oppose the gaming compacts because they believe that unions get an unfair shake under the tribal compacts.
The leading sponsor of the veto referenda that are challenging the gaming compacts is Jack Gribbon of the UNITE-HERE Coalition, representing unions who are angered that the four tribes who will benefit from this expansion of gambling refused the collective bargaining terms discussed with Governor Schwarzenegger during the compact negotiations., 
Arguments against the compacts
The official opponents website gives the following reasons to oppose the compacts:
- Fail to include clear and fair revenue sharing plans
- The deals would make California home to some of the largest casinos in the world, with more than twice as many slot machines as the big Vegas casinos.
- One third of the state's gaming business would be given to 4 of 108 tribes and could economically devastate smaller tribes
- The new compacts fail to let communities protest over the possible environmental impact on the area
- The 4 tribes who benefit from the gaming compacts have a history of denying affordable health care to their employees.
- The deals let the "Big 4" tribes manipulate the “revenue sharing formula” and underpay the state.
Other opposition to the gaming compacts
Marty Hittelman, president of the California Federation of Teachers, John Gomez of the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization, Residents Against Gaming Expansion and Lenny Goldberg of the California Tax Reform Association have announced their opposition.
Supporters of the compacts
The four tribes who were able to expand their existing casinos with many additional slot machines and Arnold Schwarzenegger were the leading proponents of the measure. Other supporters included the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, California Chamber of Peace Officers Research Association of California, representing 60,000 police and sheriff officers, California State Conference of the NAACP and California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.
The tribes organized under the Yes for California Coalition to promote the compacts.
The Coalitions argue that the new compacts will:
- Raise $200 million the first year (with revenues increasing significantly in future years) and an estimated $9 billion over the next two decades to help balance the budget and pay for schools, roads and bridges, public safety and health care
- Create thousands of new jobs
- Strengthen environment and employee protections
The tribes went to court twice in an attempt to have a judge remove the measures from the ballot. They contended that the propositions didn't include all the compact language and violated the state constitution's stance on state tax levies.
Public opinion polls
- See also Polls, 2008 ballot measures
|Date of Poll||Polling company||In favor||Opposed||Undecided|
|December 2007||Field Poll||39%||33%||28%|
|January 14-20, 2008||Field Poll||42%||37%||21%|
In the January poll, 70% of likely voters said they had heard of the measures. That is a significant uptick since December 2007, when only 27% of voters said they were aware of the measures.
In the last days before the Feb. 5th election, the average TV view was being subjected to 69 ads a week. The ad blitz is trying to sway public opinion and there has been a shift in favor the gambling measures as a result. So far over $143 million dollars have been spent on the campaign
Funding the opposition campaign
Garry South, a political advisor to the tribes that oppose the compacts, has estimated that any campaign will be expensive-as much as $80 million. So far the tribes have raised $56 million to promote the compacts while the opposition has raised a total near $15 million.
The Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park horse-racing tracks; the Pala Band of Mission Indians in northern San Diego County and the United Auburn Indian Community near Sacramento, have spent millions to overturn the compacts under Tribes for Fair Play, Californians Against Unfair Deals, and Fair Public Policy Coalition. The United Auburn Indian Community contributed $4.5 million to the effort, the largest single donation to oppose the compacts.
The Modesto Bee opposed the compacts, saying, "Now, the tribes are spending a staggering amount to convince voters that these deals are noble attempts to help the state during its budget crisis. Only a sucker would fall for such a line." The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board is also opposed to the compacts, writing "The deals set a terrible precedent".
The Times-Herald endorsed a "yes" vote on the compacts, saying that the state needs to come to reality that the gambling gateways were opened a long time ago. This is a chance for the state to recuperate from its current $14 billion debt.
The Monterey County Herald endorsed a "yes" vote for Proposition 94, 95, 96, and 97 saying "As long as voters are being asked to decide such things better handled by the experts, we say vote the way that taxes casino gaming at the highest rate possible."
- Proposition 94
- Proposition 95
- Proposition 96
- Proposition 97
- California Tribal-State Gaming Compact Initiative (1998)
- California 2008 ballot propositions
- Laws governing the initiative process in California
- Campaign finance requirements for California ballot measures
- California signature requirements
- Gibbon's comments to the Attorney General when filing the referendum
- Yes for California (Official website of supporters)
- No Unfair Deals (Official website of opponents)
- UNITE-HERE Coalition
- Coalition to Protect California's Budget & Economy
- Casino Compacts Referendum, Anyone?, Capital Notes, July 13, 2007
- California Tribal Business Association
- Money Issues on the Ballot in California New York Times, February 3, 2008
- Expensive ballot fight looms on February vote over Indian casinos, San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 7, 2007
- Calif. tribes, horse tracks, unions bet big on February ballot, San Jose Mercury News, Dec. 28, 2007
- ↑ Four gambling measures winning
- ↑ Gambling measures winning
- ↑ Santa Rosa tribe may have to disclose information as a result of Agua Caliente settlement, The California Aggie, Jan. 5, 2008
- ↑ Casino Referendum, Voting Machines, Capital Notes, July 27, 2007
- ↑ Feb 2008 Ballot: Indian Tribes Fight Employee Rights, Open Left Blog, Nov. 12, 2007
- ↑ Third tribal casino suit denied, Sacramento Bee, Nov. 28, 2007
- ↑ More special-interest stink, The Herald, Nov. 27, 2007
- ↑ No Unfair Deals Fact sheet
- ↑ Sacramento Bee, "Third tribal casino suit denied", November 28, 2007
- ↑ Ballot measure TV ads get voters' attention; Proposition 93 support slips, Press-Enterprise, Jan. 24, 2008
- ↑ M&R:Indian gaming war prompts blizzard of ads, San Francisco Chronicle, Feb. 4, 2008
- ↑ Casino pacts rise, term-limit measure falls in poll, Press Enterprise, Feb. 4, 2008
- ↑ Measures target 4 gambling compacts, San Diego Chronicle, July 28, 2007
- ↑ Racetrack interests take on compacts, Los Angeles Times, Jan. 9, 2007
- ↑ Casino-compact foes start running TV ads, The Press Enterprise, Jan. 2, 2008
- ↑ Yes on 94, 95, 96, and 97 Los Angeles Times, January 22, 2008
- ↑ No on 94, 95, 96, 97: Sucker bets we can't win Modesto Bee, January 17, 2008
- ↑ A sellout to big gambling San Francisco Chronicle, January 13, 2008
- ↑ Voters should pass 4 casino ballot measures, Times-Herald, Feb. 1, 2008
- ↑ Editorial: Ballot measure recommendations, The Monterey County Herald, Feb. 5, 2008