Southern California gaming tribes San Pasqual, owner of Valley View Casino, and Rincon, owner of Harrah’s Rincon Casino & Resort, are trying to force Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to back away from the stance that he doesn’t have any more gaming licenses to issue, and so be allowed to have 2,000 slot machines apiece, as is permitted under the state tribal gaming
compacts each signed in 1999.
The 1999 compacts set a cap on the number of licenses that could ultimately be issued, but tribes and the state disagree on that number. Currently there are about 60,000 machines operating in the state. The state says the compacts limit the number of machines to 33,151. The tribes have claimed a number as high as 120,000 at various times.
Their case was strengthened in April when a federal judge ruled in a case involving tribes in Northern California that the state should have issued at least 10,000 additional licenses. The judge says the cap on the number of machines could also be interpreted at 42,700.
In June, San Pasqual filed a $550 million claim against the state, saying that it has lost that much in revenue from not being allowed to deploy its full 2,000 slots.
Besides giving the tribes more revenue, a decision in their favor would also hamper the governor’s strategy of forcing gaming tribes to sign new compacts to get more slot machines—compacts that give the state a bigger share of the profits and more control over issues that the tribes consider trespass on their sovereignty.