Expanded Tribal Gambling Operations Approved

Published on: February 7, 2008 

The ‘Governator’ of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, announced on February 6, 2008, that four of California’s wealthiest Native American Indian tribes have received permission to add thousands of slot machines to their casino’s in an effort to help boost the states flagging economy.  Voters passed Propositions 94 through 97 in a 56% to 44% race, and the new slots are expected to bring in millions of dollars in revenues in which the tribes have promised to share with the state.

The four tribes and their casinos have been running television ad campaigns promising to award the state around $400 million annually through 2030 based on the deals that they have developed with the state.  The Governor feeling that the bill would pass has already budgeted some of the money into the state’s annual budget, hoping to see some of it by the end of the summer in 2008.  Of course, that predication will all depend on how fast the slot machined can be installed in the casino.

Immediate installation still does not guarantee that the state’s budget shortfall will be resolved.  The deals that were made will cover just four percent of what is missing for this year alone, and over the course of time between now and 2030, the revenue will only amount to less than one half of one percent during any given year.  Financial analysts are not quite as positive with their predictions and have claimed Schwarzenegger is being fat too optimistic and counting on too much.

Next to the state of Nevada, California has the biggest casino industry.  The addition of these slot machines represents a thirty percent increase in the number of slots in California.  They are projected to produce an additional $200 million over the next year, but that number is not set in stone simply because the final number of machines that will be added by the four tribes is still unknown.  Because of this, no one can say how much the state will get before the end of the year.

Normally something like this would not have required voters to pass the propositions, but two other Native American Indian tribes pushed the issue and forced the referendums with nearly a million signatures in an attempt to keep the additional slots from being added.  The four tribes were able to raise $104 million for a television campaign that asked for the votes.  And it worked even though those who opposed it continued to argue that the deal was unfair to lesser, poorer tribes.

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