California Gaming Tribes Sharing Revenues with Non-Gaming Tribes and Reaching Out to Problem Gamblers

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California Gaming Tribes Sharing Revenues with Non-Gaming Tribes and Reaching Out to Problem Gamblers

July 16, 2003

Legislation to backfill a tribal government fund established so non-gaming tribes receive a substantial share of revenues generated by tribes with government casinos will be heard this morning before the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 930 also would appropriate $3 million from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund to the Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs to conduct a statewide gambling addiction prevalence study and to implement a problem gambling prevention program.

The Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, established by tribal-state compacts agreed to in 1999, was intended to provide up to $1.1 million a year to tribes with no gaming or less than 350 slot machines. However the systems created to administer the fund have not been able to deliver the full benefits to the eligible tribes.

SB930, sponsored by Senate Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, calls for backfilling the fund with money from a Special Distribution Fund to assure that eligible tribes get the maximum amount called for in the compacts. The SDF was established in tribal-state compacts to mitigate the impact of tribal gaming on local communities and governments and to make up for any shortfalls in the RSTF.

“Those of us fortunate enough to have entered into tribal-state compacts to operate gaming on Indian lands made a commitment to our Native American brothers and sisters across the state that we would share the wealth,” says Brenda Soulliere, chairwoman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “With help from Sen. Burton and the state Legislature, non-compacted tribes in the state will be now able to receive up to the full benefits of revenue sharing as was the intent.”

SB930 also appropriates $3 million to conduct a gambling addiction prevalence study and establish the Office of Problem and Pathological Gambling within the state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.

The office will administer a statewide problem gambling prevention program.

Research studies show less than 5 percent of the adult population experience difficulty controlling their gambling. But California tribal governments have made a commitment to help prevent disordered gambling and treat problem and pathological gamblers.

“Generations of poverty and hopelessness have instilled in Native Americans a particular sensitivity to addictions of all kinds,” Soulliere says. “Whether it is drugs, alcohol or gambling, we will not stand idly by and watch people suffer from addiction. We will do the right thing.”

Tribal governments since 1997 have voluntarily contributed $453,757 to the non-profit California Council on Problem Gambling, more than the combined contributions from the state’s lottery, racetracks and card rooms.

The tribes “have absolutely stepped up” in their support of the council, says CCPG President Bruce Roberts. “We definitely appreciate how they’ve worked with us.”

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