CNIGA supports gov’s compacts

August 28, 2007 6:16 AM
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The California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), the largest regional Indian gaming association in the country, has unanimously voted to support four Southern California tribes’ and oppose any efforts to overturn the compacts they negotiated with California Governor Arnold Schwarz
enegger.

The action came at a full meeting of the association, 35 with gaming and 30 non-gaming tribes, following efforts to overturn the compacts through four referenda petitions proposed for the February ballot.

The campaign to overturn the compacts is sponsored by a labor union, a Bay Area land developer that owns two race tracks and one Southern California and one Northern California tribe.

The compacts were signed with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

"The efforts by outside third parties who have their own financial or political agendas is a direct challenge to the future of the Indian gaming industry and all California tribes, whether they have gaming operations or not," said Anthony Miranda, chair of the organization. "CNIGA views these efforts as a direct assault on the sovereign right of all tribal governments throughout the country to negotiate gaming compacts on a government-to-government basis."

All four compacts were successfully negotiated with Gov. Schwarzenegger and ratified by both houses of the Legislature this summer.

Miranda said that while it is CNIGA policy not to get involved in individual compacts or negotiations, the organization took a position on this matter because the compacts were already approved and overturning them would hurt all tribes, particularly poorer tribes.

The compact amendments call for the tribes to pay $9 million annually into the state’s Revenue Sharing Trust Fund which provides money to non-gaming tribes. The $9 million is more than double what the four tribes currently pay into the fund.

"I personally urge Californians who are approached to sign petitions seeking to overturn these compacts to reject those efforts and support the tribes’ increased payments to the state for vitally needed services," Miranda said. "If these compacts are overturned it will remove hundreds of millions of dollars from the 2007-2008 budget awaiting state Senate approval."