On May 3rd, 2008, the slot machines that can be found at Indian-owned casinos all over San Diego County produces millions of dollars-money that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to use to lower down California’s budget deficit. Bo Mazzetti, the Vice Chairman of the Rincon Band commented that the state does not have any right to place taxes on a sovereign nation. That is the summary of the decision made by a federal magistrate just recently.
The problem stems from a gaming compact finalized in 1999 in which Indian tribes agreed to scale down the number of slot machines that they offered to 2,000. Governor Schwarzenegger said that he will allow the tribes to increase the number of the slot machines that they offered provided that they pay a fee. The lawyer from the Rincon tribe, Scott Crowell commented that it is just a question of the Governor fulfilling his pledge on the 1999 gaming compact.
In the case filed by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians, a judge decided that the slots fee is equivalent to illegal tax. The Rincon tribe said that they are still lacking four hundred slot machines out of the 2,000 slot machines that they can offer. Mazzetti said that their competitors like the Pala and Pauma tribe have gaming compacts that allow for unlimited number of machines and it is unfair for them.
The governor’s office said that they are unhappy with the decision because the gaming compact was made without any hidden agenda and will make an appeal. The decision has national effects because it shows the relationship between each Indian tribe and their home state.
Crowell commented that California needs to conduct its dealings with the Rincon tribe as a sovereign nation. The decision of the judge will give California sixty days to made a compact with the Harrah’s Rincon casino.