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P.O.L.O. Home > How does an Indian reservation and casino impact the community? Why should I care if they want to expand their reservation or add more slot machines?
How does an Indian reservation and casino impact the community? Why should I care if they want to expand their reservation or add more slot machines?

There are many, many ramifications of a casino, gambling, and a “reservation” on a community. However, the most important is that the current flawed federal process and law on tribal land expansion and Indian gambling grants special privileges to “Indians” and categorically denies the voice and rights of non-Indians. The “Golden Calf” of casino dollars has bought off your elected officials at all levels…local, state and federal. It is imperative that every citizen take the time to truly understand what happens when they lose their constitutional right of equal protection of the law.

It is well documented that crime, including drugs, increases surrounding a Casino. Locally we have seen an increase of 2400% since the Casino was opened. Traffic increases are exponential. The Chumash Casino has eight to thirteen thousand visitors daily.

Social impacts are staggering. A 1999 report documented that 80% of gamblers are people from households earning $50,000 or less a year. Slot machines are extremely addictive. Reports have documented that for every dollar the state may receive, it will cost the state three dollars.

“Indian” casinos are in small rural towns. Gambling dollars, in the form of advertisement, have been used to silence the press. Most of the local papers in the Santa Ynez Valley, and the Santa Barbara News Press, will not report negative impacts to this community. They certainly make no effort to actively document an adverse story. Papers do report positive stories, such as “donations” or “contributions”. Sadly, this donation money comes from losses of low income households and is a pitiful amount compared to the actual cost that the casino has on the community.

Because “reservations” are under federal control, oversight is almost non-existent. There was a recent report of reservation land being used as a toxic dump. Drug issues on “reservations” are a significant problem. There is significant concern that “reservations”, especially along the country’s borders, are or could be used for a means of entering the country for terrorism activity. There is documentation showing money laundering on “reservations.”

You might be surprised to know that when the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was passed in 1988, it gave the majority of the regulatory authority of the Indian casinos to the Indian tribes, themselves. In other words, an industry of gambling, well documented to be fraught with corruption, is in charge of regulating itself.

Other agencies are supposed to have some authority of oversight and to provide the community with safeguards. However, these agencies are under funded and understaffed, or have no actual authority. Tribal-State Compacts designate conditions that the Casino tribe is supposed to follow, but there is no one to oversee the conditions of the compact. For example, specific conditions are in place to protect the community from expansion of the gaming operation by moving non-gaming activity off of the reservation on to private property, thus making room for more gaming.

We are seeing this, locally, as the Santa Ynez Band has purchased off reservation properties and is using them to support the gaming establishment. The use of the Royal Scandinavian Inn will bring more gamblers to the casino. The purchase of Federico’s allowed non-gaming activity to be moved that facility, thus freeing up more space for gaming. They have publicized this use…it has been openly reported in the papers. It is a violation of their gaming compact yet it took a citizen group to bring the violation to the attention of the agency in charge of oversight. County officials have said they have no jurisdiction or oversight and no elected or county official has taken any interest in overseeing the compact or challenging this flagrant violation. As an “arm” of the State to represent the people, this is shocking.

Because of research and complaints by a citizen group, the California Gambling Control Commission wrote a letter to the Santa Ynez Band challenging this use of off reservation property to support the gaming facility. The Commission appears to have no will or means to enforce it. The citizen group has been told to contact another agency for assistance.

When oversight of a 250 million dollar a year profit business has to be done by citizens and citizen groups, every person in this state and country should be sounding the alarm.

The Indian Casino Gambling industry is a largely unregulated 25 billion dollar a year (or more) industry. With that amount of money comes stunning “power.” Large studies have been done by economists that show the significant economic detriment of gambling. Yet, the majority of elected officials facilitate the growth of the industry, or show absolutely no leadership to stop it. Our county falls in this category as our Supervisors consistently and repeatedly show no leadership or ignore thousands of people. 13,000 people said NoMoreSlots, yet have any of our county leaders taken the responsibility and initiative to represent these 13,000 people? The sad answer is NO.

The only reason this can all happen is that your government, your elected officials, are forsaking our communities for gambling dollars. They are promoting inequality. Promoting inequality will never right a historical wrong. Inequality creates conflict and when inequality is being promoted by our own government, people should be outraged.

Whatever your opinion may be on Indian tribal issues, you should be very alarmed to know that the current federal process allows you no voice in the tribal gambling and expansion process. The only option appears to be a lawsuit.

Since your elected officials no longer represent you, unless you have the money to go to court, equal protection no longer applies.

 

P.O.L.O. is a non-partisan, non-profit organization. P.O.L.O. was founded in 2002 for the purpose of being an advocacy group for the preservation of Los Olivos and the Santa Ynez Valley.

 
 
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