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Rincon Indians hail limit to California powers over gambling pacts

February 11, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Herbert Pfarrhofer / European…)

California’s practice of pressuring Indian tribes to share casino profits in exchange for approval of slot machines has been hit with a setback.

The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians has received approval of its gambling authorization from the federal government, reducing the amount it must pay the state, which has traditionally negotiated gaming compacts and demanded a large share of profits.

Rincon had sued then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state for “illegal taxation” and “bad faith” in renegotiations for a gaming compact in which the tribe was asked to share profits in exchange for the state approving 900 new slot machines for its Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort in San Diego County.

Rincon Chairman Bo Mazzetti said getting approval from the federal government protects tribal sovereignty and limits the power of the state to ask for revenue.

 “The federal definition of the goal of Indian gaming is to generate revenues to fund tribal government responsibilities and obligations to provide jobs, healthcare, social and safety services for tribal members, not to pad or fix a state’s budget,” Mazzetti said.

Representatives of Gov. Jerry Brown's office did not return calls for comment.

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