California’s Gaming Tribes Share More Than $30 Million with Other Tribes

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California’s Gaming Tribes Share More Than $30 Million with Other Tribes

August 28, 2001

The first checks, drawn from more than $39 million deposited by gaming tribes, are being sent today to eligible tribes throughout the state. The revenue-sharing program, the only one of its kind in the nation, was launched by California gaming tribes to help non-gaming tribes and those with very limited gaming.

According to the tribal-state compact signed by 61 tribes in 1999, 84 of California’s 107 tribes qualify for assistance from the fund. An estimated $25 million is being distributed this week.

“It’s not new for Indian tribes to help our brothers and sisters,” said Daniel Tucker, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), which represents 56 of the tribes that signed state gaming compacts. “What’s new is that we have created a tribal revenue sharing trust fund that guarantees significant revenues for many years to come to tribes that do not have gaming or that have very limited operations. These funds are generated by California tribes solely for support to other California tribes. We are very proud of this historic achievement.”

California tribal leaders today met at the Cortina Band of Wintun Indians’ reservation to commemorate the first installment of revenue-sharing dollars generated by California’s gaming tribes.

Cortina Rancheria, a federally recognized tribe since 1889, located on a remote hillside in southwestern Colusa County, lacks a drinkable water supply and basic telephone service. Today, the tribe received $300,000.

“Our tribe has been looking forward to this since the day the compacts were signed,” said Elaine Patterson, Tribal Chair for Cortina Rancheria, a non-gaming tribe. “The tribe succeeded in bringing electricity to the rancheria only 12 years ago. These revenues will now help the tribe to bring more infrastructure improvements to our land. They will also enable our tribal government to provide much better education and health care for all of our members.”

Monies to the 84 tribes are drawn from the Indian Gaming Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, created as part of the historic tribal-state gambling agreements or compacts that each tribe signed with the state. The compacts became effective with the overwhelming passage of Proposition 1A on the March 2000 ballot, when California voters approved the Indian self-reliance measure allowing tribal governments to operate slot machines and banking card games on their reservations.

Under terms of the compacts, tribes operating slot machines must pay fees for the machines into a tribal revenue sharing trust fund. The trust fund is administered by the California Gambling Control Commission. The compacts authorize the commission, a state gambling regulatory agency, to serve as trustee for the receipt, deposit, and distribution of monies paid into the trust fund by the tribes.

As a result of the machine licensing process outlined in the compact, participating tribes to date have paid more than $39 million into the trust fund. Today marks the first distribution to tribes by the state commission, which to date has only released a partial allocation of the fund.

California gaming tribes have been anxious for the commission to distribute all of the trust fund revenues to qualified tribes as called for in the compacts. Eligible tribes are comprised of both non-gaming tribes and tribes operating 350 machines or less.

“We continue to urge the members of the commission to distribute all of the revenue sharing funds generated by the compact tribes,” said Tucker. “Clearly, an overwhelming majority of tribes in California are non-gaming tribes or tribes with very small gaming operations in remote areas. These tribes are not only eligible to receive these funds, but they are in great need of revenues to better care for their people.”

“We look forward to the commission’s distribution of the rest of the revenue-sharing funds as soon as possible,” said Tucker.

As provided in the tribal-state compacts, California gaming tribes also send revenue to the state to fund problem gambling prevention programs; to reimburse local governments for off-reservation impacts by tribal gaming operations; and to cover shortfalls in the tribal revenue sharing fund.

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