Thoroughbred Owners of California Say Gambling Expansion is Their Top Legislative Priority; Tribal Leaders Say This Would Be a Violation of Public Policy

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Thoroughbred Owners of California Say Gambling Expansion is Their Top Legislative Priority; Tribal Leaders Say This Would Be a Violation of Public Policy

December 19, 2002

Efforts by California’s thoroughbred racing industry to legalize slot machines at state racetracks, if successful, would be a violation of established public policy to limit new legal gambling to Indian lands, tribal leaders said Wednesday. The legislative committee of the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) has listed legalizing slot machines at California’s racetracks as its top priority for 2003. The committee would also like to increase the number of satellite wagering facilities within the state. “Californians voted overwhelmingly for limited gaming on Indian lands. What they didn’t vote for was widespread private, for-profit gambling, said Brenda Soulliere, chairwoman for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “Funds from tribal government gaming have allowed Indian tribal governments to improve the quality of life on and off Indian lands. Now private, for-profit gambling interests threaten to take away the improvements to the lives of our people and our surrounding communities,” says Anthony Miranda, CNIGA’s secretary and spokesman. More than 65 percent of the voters in March 2000 approved Proposition 1A, a constitutional amendment that allows tribal governments to operate casino-style slot machines and house-banked card games as a means of generating strong tribal self-governance and economic self-reliance. “The public overwhelmingly supported tribal self-reliance in approving Proposition 1A and continue to do so today,” says Anthony Miranda. Tribal government gaming has proven to be an effective tool in generating jobs and economic development both on and off tribal reservations and rancherias, Miranda says. Tribal governments employ nearly 36,000 workers, about 90 percent of whom are non-Indians, Miranda says. In addition, tribal governments are using gaming revenues to diversify their economies. “Tribal governments are using gaming revenues to develop resorts, factories and other businesses that generate even more jobs and economic development,” Soulliere says. “This is government gaming. The intent is to enable tribal governments to build tribal economies and provide for the health and welfare of tribal members and Indians throughout the state. “Slots at the racetracks is commercial, for-profit gambling,” Soulliere says. “The intent is to do nothing but generate even more revenue for racetracks and the thoroughbred racing industry.”

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