The Press Democrat:
offer state a slot deal
Six tribes engaged in negotiating a pact on revenue-sharing
April 2, 2004
By GUY KOVNER THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Sonoma County Indian tribe is willing to pay the
state up to $25,000 a year for each of the slot machines it wants to install
in an EastBay
card room, converting it to a Nevada-style casino, the tribe's lawyer said
Thursday.The 253-member Lytton
Band of Pomo Indians is one of six tribes
involved in negotiations over a landmark revenue-sharing agreement with
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Santa
Rosa attorney Tony Cohen said.The
proposed agreement has two parts -- annual slot machine fees, which the Pomo
are willing to pay, and aa
one-time, $1 billion to $1.5 billion bond issue that the negotiating tribes
would pay off.
who have a tribal office in Santa
Rosa, are negotiating to pay the slot machine fee,
but would not be obligated to pay any part of the $1 billion bond measure.
Without a working casino, the Pomo "are
not in a position to make an immediate contribution" to the state general
fund, Cohen said.The bond funds
would go to the state, and the tribes would cover the payments -- about
$100 million a year over 18 years -- on the condition that tribes maintain
a monopoly on gambling.In addition
to any revenue-sharing with the state, the LyttonPomo
would honor its agreement to give San
Pablo up to $5 million a year, Cohen said.
Two other SonomaCounty
tribes -- the Cloverdale Pomo and Federated
Indians of GratonRancheria
-- hope to open casinos in the county but are not involved in the current
Dry Creek Band of Pomo Indians operates
River Rock Casino, with 1,600 slot machines, off Highway 128 in AlexanderValley
and is not seeking renegotiation of its gaming agreement with the state.
"We're pretty happy right where we're at," said Liz
Elgin DeRouen, tribal chairwoman.
A revenue-sharing deal, if it comes, would fulfill
one of Schwarzenegger's key pledges in last year's recall campaign: securing
a "fair share" of Indian gaming proceeds to help offset the state's $17
billion budget deficit.
The 53 casino-operating tribes currently pay about
$150 million a year into two state funds, mostly for the benefit of non-gaming
tribes, and contribute little to the state's recession-battered general
Tribal gaming revenue is $5 billion to $6 billion
a year, state officials say.
Cohen said the LyttonPomo
haven't determined how many slot machines they want to install in the 71,000-square-foot
card club in San Pablo, nor
how much of a fee would be paid to the state.In
exchange for the annual fee, participating tribes would be entitled to
operate an unlimited number of slot machines, which earn $50,000 to $100,000
a year. Gaming tribes are now limited to 2,000 slot machines.
You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner
at 521-5457 or e-mail email@example.com.