Statement by CNIGA Concerning the Filing of Lawsuit Against Proposition 1A

Press Release
For Immediate Release

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Statement by CNIGA Concerning the Filing of Lawsuit Against Proposition 1A

May 1, 2001

Today’s lawsuit, which challenges Proposition 1A, was filed by a disgruntled handful of card room operators, against the state of California. The suit is completely without merit and seeks to destroy the progress that the tribes and the state have made after a decade of conflict.

Not only does the lawsuit seek to thwart the will of California voters who have twice overwhelmingly supported tribal gaming on Indian lands, the lawsuit demonstrates the card rooms’ fundamental misunderstanding of federal law which confirms the right of tribes as governments to offer gaming. Federal law was not intended to - nor does it limit the sovereignty of states and tribes to define what kind of games are allowed within their borders.

Proposition 1A is legally sound and we are confident the courts will affirm the will of the people to support California tribal government gaming on Indian lands. The overwhelming majority of Californians want to see the limited and regulated tribal gaming authorized in Proposition 1A continue uninterrupted.

The Governor, Lieutenant Governor, California State Assembly and Senate, State Attorney General, California Federation of Labor, taxpayer groups, chambers of commerce, law enforcement, religious and ethnic leaders joined together to support Proposition 1A. The tribal-state gaming agreements, made possible by the passage of Proposition 1A and signed by 62 tribal governments, were subsequently approved by the Department of the Interior, and are now in effect and working well.

Today’s latest action is frivolous and not unexpected -- it is a desperate measure by a few isolated card clubs. By filing this lawsuit, these card rooms are trying to overrule federal law and Supreme Court decisions that have consistently upheld the constitutional status of tribal governments -- not racial groups -- to use gaming as a form of economic development.

Thanks to Proposition 1A, Indian gaming is transforming the lives of California Indians and is allowing us to provide better health-care, housing and education for our people. We continue to be grateful to the millions of Californians and thousands of organizations that gave us their support and commitment.

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