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California Indian casinos could add 10,000 more slots

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August 26, 2009

SACRAMENTO - A federal judge ruled last week that California Indian casinos can add 10,549 more slot machines and ordered the state to allocate the number among 55 tribes within 45 days.

The case was brought before U.S. District Judge Frank Damrell Jr. by two tribes, the Colusa and the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, who claimed the state Gambling Control Commission has miscalculated the formulas used to allocate licenses for slot machines.

California's original Indian casino act, which was written in 1999, allotted 2,000 slot machines to each tribe. At the end of 2007, California's 60 Indian casinos operated an estimated 66,115 slot machines, and in February 2008, California voters approved an additional 17,000 slot machines for the four largest Indian casinos.

In his ruling for the tribes, Judge Damrell said the state's formula for calculating a statewide slot machine cap in 1999 was wrong and should have been set at 42,700 licenses. The ruling means the additional 10,000 new slot machines licenses will become available for tribes with 1999 agreements without them having to negotiate new compacts with the governor.

If the state disagrees with the ruling, it may decide to appeal it to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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