Philly funds helping Indians’ casino

Aug 12, 2003 6:24 AM

People in northern California have pretty well chosen sides on the viability of a casino for a landless Indian tribe but in Philadelphia, Pa., it is usually referred to as a Sam Katz project.

Involved is the 220-member Lytton Band of Pomo Indians that was stripped of its tribal status and land in 1961. At that time, according to historical review, the tribe had dwindled to only a few and only two families were living on property in Sonoma Valley.

But, thanks to an unnoticed legislative maneuver by Congressman George Miller of California, a paragraph was slipped into pending legislation that ordered the U.S. Interior Department to designate a card room and its adjoining parking lot in San Pablo, Cal., into trust as a Lytton Tribe reservation.

Behind the project is Sam Katz, a successful Philly businessman who has been unsuccessful in his political attempts. He reportedly has invested $750,000 and has put together a group of 21 partners who have anted up another $14 million to build a casino for the Lyttons.

As it stands, the San Pablo card room, formerly owned and operated by the English bookmaking firm, Ladbroke, before it divested itself of its U.S. gambling interests, oversees small stakes card games. That could be developed into a full-fledged casino if federal and state approvals are granted.

Katz said that he has been working with the tribe for seven years and that it has progressed through both denials and court cases.