Tribal gaming basks in G2E spotlight

Sep 20, 2005 4:47 AM

Last week’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas brought tribal gaming onto the well-lit stage of the country’s largest gaming convention, highlighting new developments, touting the industry’s contributions and criticizing a lack of sensitivity to Indian affairs.

Speaking at a keynote luncheon, National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. emphasized the impact tribal gaming has had nationwide.

"Indian gaming has made an enormous impact on the American economy, providing 500,000-plus jobs nationwide, over $8 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues and $100 million in charitable contributions last year and we are anticipating an increase," Stevens said.

Stevens added that Indian attendance at G2E had increased this year by 10 percent, and he thanked the American Gaming Association (AGA) for their partnership. The AGA is a co-sponsor of G2E.

But Victor Rocha, founder and editor of Pechanga.net, a clearinghouse for Native American news and information, expressed disappointment that tribal leaders were left out of G2E panels and sessions.

"G2E really made a concerted effort to bring the Indians here and get them involved," Rocha said. "But they really don’t know Indian Country and they don’t know who the leadership is."

Rocha criticized the selection of panel members for a discussion on tribal sovereignty, which didn’t have a single tribal leader on the panel.

"From a Native American perspective, it (G2E) left something to be desired," he said. "It had a patronizing quality about it."

ARNOLD Finalizes
Deals in Barstow

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has reached deals with two Indian tribes for the construction of off-reservation casinos in Barstow. The agreements allow for the first off-reservation casino in California, but they still need to be approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior and the state Legislature.

State Sen. Dean Florez continues to express concern about off-reservation casino construction. "It kind of opens the floodgates to more reservation-shopping, we think," Florez said.

It is estimated that the combined revenues will bring in at least $23 million annually for the state, and the city of Barstow will receive $6.5 million. Barstow spokesman John Rader said that his city desperately needs the economic growth that the casinos will bring.

BIA CONDUCTS
public meetings

Last week, the Bureau of Indian Affairs held a series of public meetings to decide whether to approve an off-reservation casino at Cascade Locks, about 40 miles east of Portland, Ore.

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs put the casino proposal forth after Gov. Ted Kulongoski approved a casino on industrial land in Cascade Locks.

Opponents say there are far too many legal and logistical barriers to a resort casino, and that the land is not eligible for gambling under federal law.

Officials will be drafting an environmental impact statement, proposing alternative casino sites, and exploring the pros and cons of the Cascade Locks casino proposal.

Warm Springs officials say they will build near Hood River if Cascade Locks is rejected, but that option would involve disputed road claims and other legal obstacles. The tribe, which operates the remote Kah-Nee-Ta casino and resort off U.S. 26 in Central Oregon, has been trying for seven years to acquire a more lucrative casino site.

Tribe Pays Big Money
for PRIME Land

The Coast Miwok Tribe, also known as the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, has purchased 270 acres in the Bay area for the purpose of building a casino. The formerly landless tribe paid a whopping $100 million for the site.

Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris called the price "outrageous" but the tribe had no other choice. Station Casinos, the tribe’s gaming partner, fronted the money.