Senator Jim Battin Calls for Eliminating Cap on Machines in Tribal-State Compacts to Stimulate Economy and Help Do Away with Budget Deficit

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Senator Jim Battin Calls for Eliminating Cap on Machines in Tribal-State Compacts to Stimulate Economy and Help Do Away with Budget Deficit

January 7, 2003

Temecula, CA—/PRNewswire/ A prominent California legislator believes eliminating the cap on the number of slot machines tribal governments are allowed to operate will help ease the state’s budget crisis. “If the governor is looking for a means to stimulate the economy and create 500,000 new jobs in the next four years, renegotiating the compacts in good faith and, doing away with the cap on machines is one method of achieving that goal,” Senator Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, said this week. Gov. Gray Davis is beginning his second term faced with a $35 billion budget deficit. Individual tribal governments currently are limited by tribal-state compacts to no more than 2,000 machines. Elements of the compacts, including the cap on machines, are subject to renegotiations early this year. Battin is expected to advocate an elimination of the cap when he addresses tribal leaders at the 8th Annual Western Indian Gaming Conference which is being held Jan. 21-24 at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. Battin said he agrees with Wall Street industry analysts who believe doing away with the cap would generate more jobs and economic development. Bear Stearns & Co. Inc. and other gaming analysts contend it would be good public policy for the state to eliminate artificial restrictions on the tribal government gaming industry. “It would make sense from a public policy perspective that the state provide incentives for the tribe to invest in the properties,” said Bear Stearns analyst John Mulky. Expansion of existing gaming operations would generate additional jobs and revenue, both to tribal governments and the state Special Distribution Fund, which helps pay for road work and police and fire protection. Tribes in heavily populated areas with additional machines could develop casinos into destination resorts. Tribal governments would also be able to further diversify their economies by investing government gaming revenues into non-gaming enterprises, a move that would generate even more opportunity for job creation. Tribal government employment already is increasing at a much faster rate than any other California private or public sector employer. Tribal governments employ 35,800 workers, an increase of 12.2 percent for the year ending in November 2002, according to the state Employment Development Department. No other private or public sector employer in the state reported anywhere near a double-digit gain in employment for the year, according to the state figures. While eliminating the cap would generate jobs and economic development, it is not likely most of the state’s 52 gaming tribes will seek the maximum number of machines because their trust lands are in rural areas. “You would not see, with elimination of the cap, any widespread expansion of tribal gaming,” said Anthony Miranda, president of the Pechanga Development Corporation. “What you will see, however, is more jobs and more revenue to both tribal governments and the state of California.” Battin is one of several state legislators scheduled to participate in the annual conference, sponsored by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. CNIGA represents both gaming and non-gaming tribal governments. The eight annual Western Indian Gaming Conference -- titled “Sharing a Vision, Building a Future” – is the first to be held on an Indian reservation in a tribally owned and operated gaming resort. The Pechanga Resort & Casino, located at 45000 Pechanga Parkway, is one of the finest facilities of its kind in the country with 522 luxurious rooms, seven restaurants, a health club and many other amenities. Susan Jensen, CNIGA’s director of communications, will be on site to assist with media coverage of the conference and trade show. She can be reached by telephone at (916) 769-5522. Persons wishing to attend the conference can register on site on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

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