Governor signs massive expansion of Indian gambling 7-07

SACRAMENTO (AP) - Four of the state's richest Indian tribes will be allowed to double, or even triple, the size of their casino operations in exchange for paying the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually in taxes under bills Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on July, 10.

While the governor's signatures were expected, they formally ended a battle between two of the state's most powerful special interests groups - tribes and labor unions - in favor of California's casino-rich tribes.

Unions had opposed most of the casino expansion bills, saying they provided antiquated protections for workers to organize.

Assembly Democrats, who have close ties to labor, held up the deals for nearly a year, but approved them last month after the tribes agreed to additional provisions that may allow the state to better monitor whether tribes are paying their fair share in taxes.

Unions have threatened to gather signatures for a ballot measure to attempt to block the expansions, but have not organized an effort.

The four tribes whose compacts were signed are: the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in San Diego; the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula; the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs; and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Cabazon.

Combined, the deals will allow the tribes to install nearly 17,000 new slot machines and other table games.

The governor also signed a deal allowing the Yurok tribe to install up to 99 slot machines at their reservation near Klamath in Del Norte County. The 5,000-member tribe is the state's largest but also among its poorest.

California tribes already operate 58,120 slot machines across the state and last year took in an estimated $7.7 billion in revenue. By comparison, Nevada's casinos took in revenue of $12.6 billion in 2006.