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Four Indian Gaming Propositions Pass

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February 6, 2008

SACRAMENTO Californians voted 56-44 to approve the state's new Indian gaming compacts with Pechanga of Temecula, Morongo of Banning, Sycuan of El Cajon, and Agua Caliente of Palm Springs.

These tribes have been limited to 2,000 slot machines each. Now with the new compacts Pechanga and Morongo can add up to 5,500 more slots each. Sycuan and Agua Caliente can add up to 3,000 more each. Sycuan gained approval for a second, off-reservation casino, and Agua Caliente can open a third. The combined total is 17,000 additional slots.

In return the tribes will pay new revenues to the state of $9 billion over the next 23 years. They also agreed to stronger environmental, patron and employee protections.

The ballot fight was one of the second most expensive in California history. The four tribes spent $110 million in their advertising campaign. Their opposition spent $38 million. It included two smaller tribes, Pala of San Diego County and United Auburn of suburban Sacramento, who were defending tribes with smaller casinos. Pala and United Auburn spent $28 million of the $38 million. The rest was primarily paid for by the casino workers union UNITE HERE! and the owner of two California horse tracks. The combined spending on this proposition was $148 million. That amount was close to the record $154 million spent on Proposition 87 in 2006, an alternative energy referendum.

Approval of these propositions is a major win for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and could open the door for expansion of more Indian gaming in the near future. There are rumors he is in current negotiations with tribes to build large new casinos at Shingle Springs near Lake Tahoe and in Rohnert Park, in Sonoma County.

Schwarzenegger said last week, "I'm interested in one thing, and one thing only, that ... the Indian gaming tribes pay their fair share, and ... that we in California get the money, because we need the money."

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