Gaming Tribes Begin Contributing to Special Distribution Fund

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For Immediate Release

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Gaming Tribes Begin Contributing to Special Distribution Fund

October 30, 2002

Sacramento, CA—Tribal governments on Thursday will make their first quarterly contributions to a state-administered Special Distribution Fund to offset the impact of California’s tribal government gaming industry.

The fund, established in the California Tribal-State Gaming Compacts of 1999, will be used to fund problem gambling treatment programs, reimburse local governments impacted by tribal casinos and help the state pay for regulatory costs.

Money from the fund may also be used to make up for shortfalls in a second Revenue Sharing Fund through which gaming tribes share revenues with non-gaming tribal governments and those with limited gaming.

Tribal governments are not required by federal law to share revenue with local and state governments. But tribal leaders agreed during compact negotiations to contribute to the fund as a good faith attempt to continue their practice of helping communities surrounding tribal reservations and rancherias.

“Tribal governments made a commitment that they would help state and local governments impacted by gaming,” said Brenda Soulliere, chairperson for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “We are honoring that commitment.”

Tribal governments have, in fact, exceeded what is legally required under the compacts, Soulliere said. “Several tribal governments from all parts of the state have already committed to pay counties and municipalities well over $120 million over the next several years to reimburse them for fire and police protection, road improvements and other services,” she said.

“Tribal governments for generations have suffered from the impact of growth and development,” Soulliere said. “We did not have the opportunity to do anything about it. We can certainly sympathize with the concern city and county officials may have about tribal gaming. It is for this reason we established a process to enable local governments to share gaming revenues.”
Tribal governments with casinos are being assessed from 7 percent to 13 percent of the average win from each of their slot machines. The accumulative assessment is higher than California’s 8.84 percent corporate income tax.

Funds contributed are expected to total $60 million annually, with increases anticipated between now and the end of the initial twenty-year term of these compacts. By 2020 tribal governments will have paid over $1 billion to the fund.

In addition to payments to the Special Distribution Fund, tribal governments contribute to the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, which is designed to share tribal government gaming revenues with non-gaming tribes. About $75 million has been disbursed from the revenue sharing fund.

Tribes also have voluntarily shared revenues with local communities, charities and problem gambling programs.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs announced in April of 2001 donations of more than $1.1 million to 61 charities and government agencies. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians in Alpine in September of 2001 donated $100,000 to 10 San Diego County organizations. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula last year donated $4.4 million to help pay for improvements to Pala Road.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., California tribal governments contributed $1.2 million to the Red Cross relief effort.

“As in every major crisis that this country has faced, we stand with all of America in offering our resources and support in every way,” said a statement by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Banning.

Tribal government gaming in California is the state’s fastest growing industry. State Employment Development Department figures show that tribal governments were the only employer in California with double digit growth in jobs for the year ending in September. Tribal governments employ 35,000, according to state figures, a 12.1 percent increase over September 2001. Most of the jobs are held by non-Indians.

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