Over the past several years we have been among the staunchest supporters of Indian gaming.
Time and again we have backed a tribe’s right to offer casino-style games to the public. So once again we urge voters , we hope for the last time , to stand with us in backing Indian gaming. We want you to vote “yes” March 7 on Proposition 1A, the California Indian Self-Reliance Amendment.
While endorsing Indian gaming has been the right thing to do, it hasn’t always been the easiest position to take. Some in the business community took a dim view of gambling on the reservations.
Despite the best efforts of the tribes to be solid members of the community , generously supporting everything from Little League to the San Diego Padres , there were plenty of people who would have banished any form of gaming on the local reservations.
Perhaps they took their queue from the state Capitol. Former Gov. Pete Wilson was among the most fervent opponents of Indian gaming. San Diego’s former mayor bullied tribes with a controversial and downright oppressive compact that virtually hogtied a blossoming industry across the state. It also created a deeper, more sinister goal, pitting tribes against each other.
Fortunately, most tribes were able to work through their disputes and ultimately stood united as 1998’s historic Proposition 5 neared. Not only did they face opposition from the statehouse, they weathered a blistering assault from Nevada’s gaming interests as well.
The campaign cost both sides tens of millions of dollars. It was arguably the ugliest political campaign in California’s history. In the end, voters saw the benefits of Indian sovereignty.
Thousands of jobs depended on that vote, but more importantly, Proposition 5’s approval guaranteed a better life for impoverished tribes across the state.
The March 7 vote on Proposition 1A solidifies what Proposition 5 put in place. It’s no surprise that the Nevada gaming interests have backed off this time despite a report spelling hard times ahead for many of the mid-level casinos in Las Vegas and Reno. While it will be several decades before planned resorts on the reservations steal away the money being funneled into Nevada’s casinos, they know the day is coming.
Proposition 1A deserves your yes vote. Once and for all, Indian gaming must take its place with California’s other successful industries.