January 24, 2008

Two tribes vs. many

Here's a 30-second ad that everyone with an opinion about California Indian gaming should see:

Yes on Props 94-97--Two Tribes vs. Many

Comment:  I post this not because I'm trying to push Propositions 94-97 in this blog, but because it makes an important point. The anti-compact forces have made it seem as if most of California's tribes oppose the "sweetheart deals" of the "big four" tribes. Not true, as this video demonstrates. Only two tribes actively oppose the big four's compacts, and they're about as rich as the big four.

Not stated in this video is another reason most tribes support the big four's compacts. The big four exercised their inherent sovereignty in negotiating these deals. Supporting them means supporting each tribe's right to conduct government-to-government relations with the state. That's something every tribe can and should support as a matter of course.

The anti-compact forces' arguments tend to be stereotypical because they portray the big four as rich and greedy. What they don't say is that the big four have prospered by being smart, innovative, and bold. By having capable leaders who know how to negotiate with the state. I'd say that's more accurate than "rich and greedy."

These tribes know that things could change quickly. Congress could amend or overturn the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. California's voters could open the state to non-tribal casinos. People could get tired of gambling as a recreational activity.

Therefore, it makes economic sense to strike while the iron is hot. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for tribes to secure their economic future. They'd be negligent if they didn't try to increase their revenue while they could.

But like any business, they must balance what's good for them with what's good for everyone else. They should support strong government regulations...pay the costs of increased traffic and law enforcement...crack down on problem gambling...give generously to non-gaming tribes and charities...and not disenroll members for financial reasons. We can't force them to do these things, of course, but they should do them anyway because it's good business and good PR.

For more on the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming.

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