Monday, January 07, 2008

$9 Billion from Indian Casinos - Is it Too Expensive?

You bet!

Personally, as someone who enjoys a good video poker machine, I'd love to have casinos with more of those machines closer to home, without having to drive 5 hours to Las Vegas.

As an Enrolled Agent, dealing with folks in tax trouble, their financial adviser and author of, dealing with clients and questions from thousands of people each year, I haven't seen many instances of people who've gotten into trouble with gambling or gambling debts. Perhaps 5-10 people in over 30 years. So, I don't see having more easily accessible casinos increasing that problem.

After all, anyone who's really addicted and has a gambling problem can do it from the comfort of their home via the Internet. There dozens of gambling ventures online - both for casino games and sportsbooks.

Economically, Californians are presently a very big part of the Nevada gambling economy. Increasing the size of California Indian casinos will only help keep some of the income at home. $9 billion without raising taxes is a really tempting opportunity.

This venture costs the Tribes about 15% of profits, while the Lottery gives 83% of its net income to the state. (See California Progress Report by Peter L. Stahl.

In terms of safety, both Nevada and Indian casinos encourage seniorsto come spend their money by sending buses to pick them up for afree trip to their casinos. Those buses don't necessarily have the best reputation for safe maintenance and upkeep. Some even hire, or retain, drivers with DWIs. So, the less time and distance seniors and others spend on those party buses, the better off they are. Another vote for expanding the casinos.

And then, there's this article on the LA Weekly about the Indian casinos and how they've been expelling entire segments of tribes as not being legitimate tribal members, ignoring all objective facts to the contrary. It seems the tribal councils can be rigged - and their authority is absolute. Their decisions are not subject to appeal. The courts, the Bureau of Land Management and state and local governments have no say, whatsoever. (Read this article - and get past the emotional tugs.) This is extremely disturbing. Watching the high-handed, unrestrained behavior of tribal governments towards very the members who broughtthem the prosperity they have, well, I don't want to reward them by giving them ever more wealth.

Besides, what guarantee do we have that they will even pay over the$9 billion to the State? And if they don't, what jurisdiction does California have to collect the money from Tribal accounts?

And once the laws are passed granting the tribes the right to expand their facilities, how do yourevoke those laws? Not easily. Also, another very big issue has arisen. The tribes, with all their new money have emerged as powerful political forces. They are able to lobby generously to advance their agendas and their candidates. They've already thrown a lot of money around Sacramento to get theseinitiatives on the ballot. And from the way they've behaved towards their own members, this does not bode well for Californians. I am finding their behavior more and more disturbing. Frankly, they've lost the sympathy of thinking Californians for the plight of Indians, many of whom still need help and shouldn't be overlooked.

TaxMama is encouraging Californians to vote against Propositions 94-97. VOTE NO!

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