INDIAN GAMING AND THE CALIFORNIA RECALL | NevadaAppeal.com

INDIAN GAMING AND THE CALIFORNIA RECALL

Guy W. Farmer

Every Nevadan who cares about the economic future of our state should pray that California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante doesn’t win Tuesday’s recall election because Bustamante has been bought and paid for by his state’s Indian casinos, which have donated at least $6 million to his gubernatorial campaign.

According to California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the Indian gaming lobby has spent $122 million on ballot measures and state elections since 1998, making it the biggest special interest group in the state. So if Bustamante is elected governor on Tuesday, he’ll give the virtually unregulated Indian casinos everything they want, which is a lot.

Basically, they want wide open, Nevada-style gaming throughout California with minimal state taxation and control. In fact, the tribes always protest loudly when additional taxes and/or controls are proposed.

In a recent article in the conservative Weekly Standard, David DeVoss of the Los Angeles-based East-West News Service revealed that California’s 54 Indian casinos earned more than $5 billion last year, a sum that exceeded Atlantic City’s take and was more than half that of Nevada’s 401 licensed casinos. Thus, the implications of a Bustamante victory are immense for Nevada’s gambling-based economy.

Like Bustamante, beleaguered Gov. Gray Davis is also pandering to the Indian gaming lobby, DeVoss noted, and commented that “California is suffering from the unforeseen implications of its beneficence. Dozens of the state’s Indian tribes are using profits from their desert casinos to buy new ‘homelands’ closer to population centers (and) there are plans to build casinos in the Sonoma wine country, along the Ventura coast, and just outside Oakland.”

Several of the new tribal casinos that compete directly with Reno-Tahoe area casinos are managed by a Nevada gaming licensee, Station Casinos of Las Vegas. And therefore, I renew my demand for Nevada’s gaming control agencies and/or Attorney General Brian Sandoval to force Station to choose between its highly profitable Northern California operations and those in Nevada “in the best interests of the people of the state of Nevada,” as required by law.

Last time I urged Sandoval to confront this issue, he replied that he lacked jurisdiction, which is a strange response from our chief law enforcement officer in regard to a clearly “unsuitable” (in Nevada) industry that reaps millions of dollars in profits and pays no federal income taxes.

Not only have Davis and Bustamante sold out to the Indian casino lobby, they’re also pandering shamelessly to Hispanic voters by promising to “legalize” millions of illegal immigrants (excuse me, undocumented workers) who live and work in California.

In his most recent flip-flop on immigration, Davis signed a measure granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, which is the ultimate absurdity in a supposedly law-abiding country. San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Joseph Perkins wrote that Davis and Bustamante “have sold out America by proffering a privilege (driver’s licenses) to illegals that undermines national security,” and I agree.

That see-no-evil attitude was on display around here late last month when the “Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride” visited Reno. Making no distinction between legal and illegal immigration, Freedom Ride organizers called for “recognition of immigrants’ civil rights regardless of their legal status.”

In other words, legalize the illegals — the more the merrier on the theory that they’ll vote for Democrats. But let’s remember that illegal immigrants can’t vote and have no inherent “right” to sneak into the U.S. and violate our laws. We should treat them the same way Mexico treats Central Americans who sneak across its southern border — by deporting them.

And furthermore, although about one-third of California residents are Hispanics, they accounted for less than 15 per cent of all voters in last year’s statewide election.

To his credit the leading candidate, actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, has vowed to make Indian casinos pay their fair share of state taxes in an effort to shrink California’s huge budget deficit and to repeal legislation approving driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.

The Austrian-born Schwarzenegger has cast himself as a “poster child” for immigrants. “I don’t need to get a lesson from anyone else about immigration, ” Arnold told the Associated Press. “Whereas other candidates (like Bustamante) are maybe sons of immigrants, I’m the true immigrant.” And so he is.

When all of the smoke has cleared in Sacramento Tuesday night, I expect California voters to recall Gov. Davis by a comfortable margin and replace him with Schwarzenegger, who continues to lead the polls despite desperate last-minute smear campaigns. And if I’m wrong, I’ll admit my error right here in your favorite daily newspaper. Stay tuned.

SINATRA TALK: I’ll be speaking about the 1963 Frank Sinatra gambling license revocation case at 7:30 p.m. this Tuesday at the Gold Hill Hotel. My readers are cordially invited.

Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City.