One of the commissions in charge of regulating gambling in California is backing off from claims that it has the right to demand “prompt access” to Indian casinos and their books.
The California Gambling Control Commission, one of two regulatory agencies overseeing gambling in the state, last fall moved to assert that it has oversight authority over nearly 50 Indian casinos. The commission adopted regulations that gave its inspectors access to financial records, gambling operations, and other activities that have been handled in the past by reservation gaming commissions.
The commission said it was reacting to a federal appeals decision of two years ago that ruled that the National Indian Gaming Commission didn’t have the authority to regulate some Las Vegas-style casino activities.
Then in December the commission delayed a vote that would have set its regulations in motion. Some tribal leaders say the commission realized that it was overreaching itself.
Howard Dickstein, an attorney who represents several gaming tribes, commented last month, “The dispute really isn’t about the standards. The dispute is over who has the authority to enforce them. The state apparently doesn’t have adequate respect for tribal governments and their gaming agencies’ independence.”
But the commission may also be reacting to the threat of lawsuits from several tribes, who have also been applying intense pressure on state legislators. That’s the opinion of Cheryl Schmit, of Stand Up For California, a non-profit that opposes tribal gaming. She said the commission is “caving” to the pressure.
But Evelyn Matteucci, chief counsel for the gambling commission, insists that the commission just wants to work with the tribes and wants to keep talking.
Dickstein quipped, “They’re managing to unite every tribe in the state of California against them.”