California stands firm on taxing Indian-run casinos

September 10, 2002 4:01 AM
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California has dealt the American Indian tribes a nasty hand.

The state gambling commission ruled last week in Sacramento that they will not alter their ruling on the amount of taxed casino revenue.

The board did agree to defer the start of payments, which will save the tribes as much as $20 million.

The Pechanga and San Manuel tribes have indicated they will file a legal challenge to the state’s interpretation of the compact. The tribes believe that the compact includes and requires joint process to remove uncertainties.

The state tax is expected to generate up to $80 million a year. The definition of the tribal gambling agreement runs for 17 years.

"Once again they exceed their authority," Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro said last week. "It means millions of dollars over the remaining term of the compact."

The new revenue is slated to go into an account called the Special Distribution Fund, one of two financed by the tribes in their gaming agreement with the state.a

The first payments will be due at the end of October.

There is no tax on the first 200 slot machines at any Indian reservation in the state.

Local governments, including San Diego County, have been pushing hard for a share of the money to help finance road improvements needed to serve the often remote casinos.