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California | Compacts
Commentary: Gaming expansion in California

"By the time voters approach their touch-screen booths on Feb. 5, they’ll probably know what there is to know about Indian gaming compacts and the state of California. The tribes and their opponents will have spent tens of millions of dollars explaining why the Sycuan, Pechanga, Morongo and Agua Caliente bands should/should not be permitted to add 11,000 slot machines to their casino floors, why it will be an amazing boon/completely devastating to the state budget and how working conditions at the casinos will soon resemble the whistle-while-you-work mine of the Seven Dwarves/Dickensian glove factory. But a Dec. 27 Field poll indicates that right now, only about a quarter of Californians have any idea what Propositions 94 through 97 are about, and since the intervening weeks have involved a lot of binge drinking and football, that figure is probably about the same today.

So, to sum up: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature have agreed with four tribes (plus the San Manuel band, but their agreement isn’t on the ballot), to let them double or even triple the number of slot machines in exchange for contributions directly into the state’s general fund. Some unions, other Indian tribes, racetrack owners and environmentalists think the new compacts are a terrible idea, so they mustered the signatures to place the ratification of the deals on the ballot. Voting yes on these props is a vote for more slots.

To sum up more densely, the four tribes want more slot machines, but they need voters’ permission to do it.

Why more slots? Because they’re totally bank. Someone might drop two bucks in a slot and walk away with a jackpot on one pull. But over a thousand pulls, or a million, the only winner is the casino. And unlike card games, or booze, or live entertainment, the slots operate every minute of every day of the year, with no vacations or coffee breaks, and healthcare consists of WD-40 and a reboot."

Get the Story:
Eric Wolff: A slot in every pot (San Diego City Beat 1/8)

More Stories:
Voters To Decide Future Of Indian Gaming (NBCSandiego.Com 1/8)
Bay Meadows owner fights Indian pacts (The San Mateo County Times 1/9)
Patty Fisher: Put gaming issue to bed with yes vote (The San Jose Mercury News 1/9)