Governor Signs Tribal Gaming Bills

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians along with two other tribes this morning reached the end of a campaign to expand their tribal casinos when the governor signed bills ratifying revised gambling agreements.

 
The four bills signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will allow the Agua Caliente and Morongo tribes alone to add up to 8,500 new slot machines.
 
Together the revised agreements will allow the four tribes that also include the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation to add a total of 17,000 new slot machines.
 
Under the old agreements, known as compacts, the Agua Caliente, Morongo and Pechanga each operate up to a total of 2,000 slot machines.
 
After lengthy, and sometimes intense, negotiations with the governor and the legislature, tribal leaders said they were pleased to reach the end of their bid to meet growing demand.
 
"Needless to say we're all pleased to be here,'' Agua Caliente chairman Richard Milanovich said. "It is a quite an accomplishments.''
 
"We've secured the future for our tribe, our community and our region,'' added Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro.
 
But after the long effort, Milanovich concluded: "It's almost anti-climatic.''
 
Schwarzenegger signed the bills in a private ceremony along with an additional measure known as a Memorandum of Agreement that the Assembly Democrats required the tribes to accept as a condition of passing the ratification measures.
 
The MOAs addressed issues like financial audits, workers' compensation, enforcement of child support payments, and problem gambling.
 
The governor didn't put out statement but his press secretary Aaron McLear said the administration is glad the compacts, which were signed last year, now have made through the Capitol.
 
"These are the right agreements,'' McLear said. "We're pleased they are in place.''
 
The bills take effect Jan 1. The compacts and the MOA still are subject to review of the U.S. Department of Interior.
 
Desert Sun Sacramento Bureau
By: Jake Henshaw