Propositions 94, 95, 96, and 97 are voter initiatives that will allow four indian casinos in Southern California to build "super casinos" larger than those found on the Las Vegas strip. These will be on the Feb 5, 2008 ballot...
- Prop 94 - affects Pechanga Casino
- Prop 95 - affects Morongo Casino
- Prop 96 - affects Sycuan Casino
- Prop 97 - affects Agua Caliente Casino
Texts of these four referendums are essentially the same, the only differences being the number of additional slot machines they are allowed to add, and the amount of money they'll be paying to the State.
What the Casinos get...
- Casinos get to triple or nearly quadruple their number of slot machines (Pechanga goes from 2,000 to 7,500)
- Casinos are no longer subject to the California Environmental Quality Act. Any expansion must be backed up by an environmental report that the Indian tribes can conduct themselves.
- Casinos no longer have to have an impartial auditor count the slot machine revenues; they'll be able to audit them on their own.
- Casinos will receive a "fail safe" guarantee that punishes the State for permitting non-tribal gambling operations. That is, if an organization other than an indian tribe receives a clearance to build a gambling establishment, the indian casino will be allowed to reduce its taxes to the State, or eliminate them altogether.
What the State gets...
- Casinos will now pay taxes to the State General Fund. Previously, casino taxes were paid to two tribal funds (RSTF and SDF) that the State distributed to smaller tribes, and tribal administrative bodies. The General Fund is spent on all Californians.
- Casinos will now pay more money than before, almost double than under the current compact agreements. But as mentioned above, the Indian tribes will now get to audit their own revenues for the purpose of deciding how much money goes to the State. Under the current arrangement, an impartial auditor is used. So, it's not exactly clear how much more money California will receive.
The provisions spelled out above were actually passed by the State Legislature, and signed into law by the Governor, in June 2007. It was supposed to go into effect January 1, 2008.
But other indian tribes within the State, particularly the Pala Tribe, as well as some racing tracks, the California Federation of Teachers, and the California Tax Reform Association, managed to gather enough signatures to put Props 94, 95, 96, and 97 on the ballot as a last ditch effort to override the Governor's signature.
The Pala Tribe is concerned that their casino will lose business if Pechanga is allowed to greatly expand its casino.
A "no" vote means the existing 1999 agreements will remain in effect. A "yes" vote allows these new provisions to go into effect.
I'm not in favor of the new provisions. I'll be voting "no" on these propositions.
I do want indian tribes to pay into the State General Fund. But I don't like two particular details: the "fail safe" guarantee that punishes the State for allowing non-tribal gambling operations to exist, and allowing the indian tribes to audit their own revenues for purposes of determining their payment amounts to the State.
As a free society, anybody and any business should be free to operate a casino. If indian tribes can build a casino, then why can't I? The "fail safe" provision takes that freedom away, because it allows indian tribes to reduce or eliminate their payments to the State General Fund if a non-tribal gambling operation starts up.
And letting tribes audit their own money is a priviledge that I don't have, nor you. When we pay taxes, the State is free to audit our money as they please. We don't have the right kick the state out of our books, so why should the tribes?
And why should the tribes be excluded from the California Environmental Quality Act? As a business owner, I don't have that priviledge! No other business has that priviledge.
I don't have anything against indian casinos, or building "super casinos", but I want fairness and equality. I own a small business, and I don't like the fact that indian tribes can get special priviledges just because they're indians. That's state-sanctioned racism, against me and you.
My solution to all this is to dissolve indian reservations. Let indians be treated equally as any other Californian. If we applied the same business and tax laws to indian casinos, we'll recieve plenty of tax revenues. And they'll be free to expand without compacts.
For further reading...
- Expensive ballot fight looms on February vote over Indian casinos - San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 7, 2007
- February 5, 2008, Supplemental Official Voter Information Guide, California Secretary of State