Most people now realize that tribal casinos are not subject to the same rules that the rest of us follow, and tribal casinos are still not subject to fair taxation like any other business in this country.
Casino “tribes” do not pay state income tax and do not pay as much tax on their casino profits
as other “off-reservation” businesses pay , nor do they pay retail sales tax, “bed” taxes and many other taxes. Because of this, it is mandated by law that casino tribes must contribute to a Special Distribution Fund (SDF) to attempt to mitigate the impacts of the casino. These monies distributed through the SDF are mandatory but are often referred to as “donation” dollars or contributions. These monies are a pittance compared to what the mitigation of the impacts actually cost and in light of the fact that casino “tribes”, including the Santa Ynez Band, continue to receive federal subsidies every year. The SDF must be put into perspective by both the community and our elected officials.
A significant consideration when putting these “contributions” or “donations” into perspective is that the gambling industry profits when people lose and that this industry does not pay taxes.
Who are the people gambling? Where are these “donation” dollars coming from? Here is more food for thought:
In 1999, the bipartisan National Gambling Impact Commission found that 80 percent of gambling revenue comes from households with incomes of less than $50,000 a year.
The Chumash Casino makes over $250 million dollars a year profit. If it were taxed at the same rate as every other corporation,
it could be subject to
$112 million dollars a year in taxes.
On 5/21/05 El Tiempo Newspaper reported the impact of gambling on Latinos. “Going on now three years, every two weeks after finishing his job cutting cilantro or spinach in Arroyo Grande, Moises catches a free bus ride for his “ride to riches.” The article quoted other Latinos discussing gambling.
On 9/21/05 the Santa Barbara News Press reported the impact of gambling on college students. “College students take the gamble.” “According to the Division on Addiction at Harvard Medical School: Student gamblers are more likely to drink alcohol, to binge drink and to have unprotected sex as a result of drinking. Of the 33 personal behaviors closely linked with binge drinking, 29 were also significantly related to gambling.”
Citizen at 2/27/07 Board of Supervisor Hearing: “I found a number of entries where she actually brought money home with her. However, the net just before she died was nearly a 50,000 dollar loss, This by an 86 year old widow of over 35 years, who was living on Social Security, and a very small income from one of a, from a one day a week bookkeeping job. She got hooked because it was easily accessible to her and right in her community.”
When people discuss the benefit to the many recipients of tribal “donation” dollars, they choose not to think about, or discuss, where these “donation” dollars are really coming from. Certainly, gambling is a form of recreation when it has not become an addictive process. Nevertheless, “donation” dollars come from gambling losses, plain and simple.
Although recipients of “donation” dollars greatly benefit, let’s not be naïve. This “donated” money is also being used as a powerful marketing tool to buy community and political favor. This favor is used to justify the industry, buy local, state and federal elected officials, and promote expansion of the gambling establishment.
2/13/07 Board of Supervisor Hearing, Chairman Armenta: “We will through time and time again, have conversations about expansion. And we're gonna continue to do it, as a tribal government, because that's our right. And we're gonna do it.”
Unless this Community gets very, very vocal and involved, this means an additional 5000 more slot machines given the current renegotiated compacts by Governor Schwarzenegger. Currently the Chumash Casino has 2000.
Our elected officials are selling us short as they live for any dollar they can get today…without regard for the future. If we do not speak up loud and clear to the politicians, including Governor Schwarzenegger who wants to use gambling money to help balance his budget on the backs of rural communities, our community will be sold out for gambling dollars.
Special Distribution Fund dollars are required by law because tribal casinos
are given the privilege to pay far, far less in taxes. Casinos negatively impact communities and cost taxpayers. Let’s not glamorize these dollars as “donations.” Let’s not forget that they are being used as a tool. And, most importantly, let’s not forget who they are really coming from: the California tax payer and people who have lost their money in gambling, the majority of them low income wage earners.