Continuing the endless, meandering trek through the California primary ballot . . .
I'm trying desperately to find a reason to like Proposition 1A. It would amend the state constitution to allow slot machines on Indian lands. I should be in favor of a measure that would make Indian tribes more self-reliant, and that's what the supporters of 1A say it would do. On the other hand, gambling is big money, it's not taxed, and the tribes contribute heavily to the politicians who are promoting this new law. That just leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I'd like to be convinced that 1A is a good thing, but I'm leaning the other way.
Proposition 1A is a response to the state supreme court's overturning of Proposition 5, passed in 1998, which expanded Indian gaming. The court said that the law created Nevada-style casinos, which are unconstitutional in California. The real Nevada casinos put a lot of money into fighting that measure, and the voters seemed to have a clear choice: Indian tribes or casino owners. The proposition passed by a wide margin.
This time around, the Nevada interests are not working against Proposition 1A. In fact, they have agreements in place to run casinos for various California tribes. I don't have a problem with the concept of gambling, and I don't buy the argument that we need to regulate it in order to protect our citizens from themselves. But I do think that an activity that generates this kind of revenue for so few people can become a threat to the delicate balance between money and power.
Incredibly, there are two other gambling-related measures on the ballot as well. Proposition 29 is the converse of 1A. It would ratify earlier agreements between the state and the tribes, keeping Indian gaming at pretty much its current level. I guess if you vote one way on 1A, you vote the other way on 29.
Proposition 17 would allow charities to conduct fundraising raffles, which are now illegal under the state constitution. I can't see anything wrong with this one. A raffle seems to be a legitimate, low-risk way for nonprofit groups to raise money to keep operating. If we're serious about reducing tax burdens for public welfare, we should probably encourage groups that help people in need to find ways to fund themselves. Does this contradict my reluctance to embrace Proposition 1A? It just seems that 1A puts too much money into too few pockets.