Electronic version puts gaming tribes, charities at odds
But a day of reckoning appears to be close.
The wealthy United Auburn band of suburban Sacramento has put the Schwarzenegger administration on notice that it believes the bingo machines violate a clause in its gambling agreement that guaranteed a monopoly on electronic gaming devices. Such a breach would permit the tribe to suspend the $33 million it pays annually to the state.
Charities that have come to depend on income from the machines have taken their plight to allies in the Legislature, seeking a compromise that would sustain their bingo revenue.
But there doesn't appear to be much room for a compromise.
The state could forfeit hundreds of millions of dollars a year in tribal payments if electronic bingo is legalized for charities, said tribal attorney Howard Dickstein, who represents United Auburn and Pala of San Diego County.
“This is a high-stakes game for them to be playing,” he said.
Charities say the stakes are just as high for them, although the money involved is much less.
“All I know is we've got homeless kids and this is a big part of our budget,” said John Poswall, a board member of WIND Youth Services of Sacramento.
Like disenrollment, this is another issue where tribes could win the battle but lose the war. The war is for the hearts of the minds of the public, and tribes aren't doing as well as they were a decade ago. Generating goodwill and good PR should be the centerpiece of their strategy.
For more on the subject, see The Facts About Indian Gaming.