On December 4th, 2007, the attorney and tribal leaders consider the effects of the U.S. Interior Department approval of billion dollar gambling compacts for three Riverside County Indian Tribes. Two questions are being reviewed. First, would the federal permission of the gambling compacts ignore the February 5th voting referendum asking voters to approve the gaming deals that would allow the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Penchanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Indians the chance to add 17,000 slot machines to their current slot machines total of 8,000 slot machines.
Another question will be when the tribes will start operating the brand new slot machines? Anna Carr, the spokesperson for the California Gambling Control Commission said that they could not speculate on the matter right now. Sabrina Lockhart, the spokesperson for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that they are looking in the matter as an interested party.
Lockhart said that they are still evaluating the whole thing and they do not want to make a premature decision. But the Penchanga Tribe in Temecula does not see any problem. Penchanga Chairman Mark Macarro said that aside from the actions by the HERE UNION and the owner of the Hollywood Park racing track, they are having good progress. The Head of the Agua Caliente in the Coachella Valley and the Morongo Indians could not be reached for their side of the issue.
The spokesperson for the four tribe group, the Coalition to Protect California’s Budget and Economy, Roger Salazar commented that the legal implications of the federal action are still being examined. The spokesperson for the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Nedra Darling commented that the federal approval notice should be put in the Federal Register within the next few days.
The compact will then be enforced after that. The director of the Rose Institute of State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna College, Ralph Rossum, said that the federal decision is like to give a push to the February 5th, 2008 referendum.
Al Lundeen, the spokesperson for the campaign to block the gambling compacts commented that a legal team is already reviewing the issue. Lundeen said that questions are also being asked regarding Secretary of State Debra Bowen gaming compact submission to the Department of Interior on September 5th, 2007, four months before he bills were to be enforced.
Cheryl Schmit, who has helped with the campaign of the opposition commented that lawyers are reviewing at least one New Mexico court case that has a favorable decision regarding this matter.