The Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) sent a letter to the California lawmakers sponsoring the Golden State’s current online gambling proposal and requested that the authors amend several key elements of the measure to appease the state’s tribal gaming interests.
TASIN, which consists of nine tribal governments in Southern California recognized by federal authorities, said that SB1463, as proposed by President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacremento) and Senator Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) “is deeply flawed and undermines tribal sovereignty and the progress toward self-sufficiency that California tribal governments have achieved.”
The letter touched on five key areas that the Indian tribes request to be amended, which are: that tribal sovereignty demands respect and the bill’s blanket waiver of Indian tribes’ sovereign immunity is not acceptable; Internet gambling licenses should go to only tribes and card rooms that currently offer poker; the bill should be poker only and not add other online casino games after two years as is currently proposed; to not violate the exclusive provisions of current compacts between the state and Indian tribes; and to do away with the bill’s proposal to amend the terms of the online gambling licenses after three years.
Other tribes in California, including those not represented by TASIN, seem to be in agreement on SB1463’s purported lack of respect shown to tribal interests. The various tribes in the state don’t always see eye-to-eye on issues, but are united in their displeasure with SB1463. Chief among their concerns is lack of being properly consulted on the matter, as well as being viewed by lawmakers as commercial businesses instead of sovereign entities. The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA) has also come out against the proposal, calling it an “inferior legislative product,” said Leslie Lohse, CTBA’s chairwoman. Lohse also added that if approved in its current form, the measure would constitute a “harsh slap in the face” to California Indian gaming interests.
The state’s tribes and card rooms vehemently oppose allowing California’s horse-racing industry to be granted a license for offering online poker. However, the state’s largest racetrack is in the legislative district of Sen. Wright. It is hard to fathom that one of the bill’s sponsors would agree to a proposal that would seemingly ignore his most loyal constituency. Whether the proposed bill is amended or not, it’s safe to say that any online gambling legislation introduced in America’s most populous state will be hard-pressed to satisfy all of the parties or interests involved.