Gambling on tribal lands has exploded over the last few years, and the spillover is an ugly thing to see. Indian gaming rights have been pretty much co-opted by Nevada casino owners (and you know what that means). Any altruistic or humanitarian motivation for allowing tribes to run gambling venues is gone.
Maybe we still think of the California gambling industry as part of reparations to Indian nations disenfranchised by the U.S. government in the nineteenth century, but if that was ever really the case, it no longer is.
So what can we do now? We can try to contain it, we can tax it, and we can regulate it. Unfortunately, neither of the gaming-related measures on the November ballot does anything to bring the situation under control.
Proposition 68 would allow racetracks and card rooms, where gambling is currently legal in California, to expand to allow slot machines as well. In other words, wherever the specified racetracks and card rooms currently exist, we can expect to see big Nevada-style casinos being built.
The measureís smokescreen window dressing is an increase in fees paid to the state on gambling winnings. I donít think itís worth bringing this kind of business into our neighborhoods, and Iím voting no. (Iím not the only one, apparently, because the polls show that this proposition is trailing so badly that those funding it have pull out of the race.)
Proposition 70 is even worse. It would expand gaming, exempt tribes from state environmental laws, require smaller tax payments from them, and remove any requirement that they negotiate with local governments. And all of this would be unaudited and written into the form of 99-year renewable compacts. It doesnít smell very good, does it? It smells like roulette, and it smells like craps.
This is a horrible measure that shouldnít even be on the ballot. I suspect that thereís a guilt complex at work here. Something must have encouraged so many people to sign the petition, and I canít imagine it was common sense, because if theyíd read it they surely wouldnít have endorsed it. Itís another example of the ridiculously porous initiative process that clogs every California ballot with ideas that should be debated and rejected in our legislature.