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Saturday, Jul 13, 2024


Residents Against Gaming Expansion Oppose Proposed Compact, Second Casino


As an association of hundreds of homeowners in East County opposed to the ratification of the state’s amended compact with the Sycuan band, we take vigorous exception to the recent editorial endorsing that compact (Renegotiated Compacts Between Sycuan, Four Other Big Tribes and Governor’s Office Deserve Legislative Approval, April 9).

The editorial failed to take into consideration the following critical arguments:

The people of California voted in favor of Indian gaming, out of compassion, to lift the Indian tribes out of poverty. The Sycuan band’s casino, in operation since 2000, has accomplished that for the tribe , and then some. The tribe, consisting of 140 members, enjoys estimated gross revenues of about $300 million a year. To give further assistance, in the form of a massive increase of the tribe’s gambling monopoly, is irrational, and contrary to the intent of the people of California.

The existing casino has already had considerable negative effects on our neighborhoods. We have experienced increases in crime, problem gambling, traffic, pollution, etc. The new compact would dramatically increase the severity of those effects.

The new compact provides for the erection of a second casino on land which the tribe has newly acquired during the last six years, including Singing Hills Resort. For this to occur, the newly acquired lands must be added to the tribe’s federal land trust. The county Board of Supervisors has expressly taken a position in opposition to such fee-into-trust conversions, for several reasons, including the loss of property tax revenues and loss of local planning control.

The new compact provides for increased revenue to the state government from the Sycuan band. In fact, this is a major argument advanced in its favor. We consider it extremely dangerous for our state to become dependent on revenues from gambling sources to balance its budget, as is apparently the intent of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Sycuan band has certainly shown considerable generosity with local charities, for which they are to be commended. This alone is far from sufficient to justify the amended compact. Many businesses and many individuals in the county give generously to charity.

However, what is most important is their net contribution to society , and gambling has always been shown to be a net negative, from an economic and moral point of view.

With already one million problem gamblers in California, and with gambling now assuming the role as the No. 1 fastest-growing addiction among teenagers, do we really need more casinos and more slot machines?

William P. Bengen

Residents Against Gaming Expansion

El Cajon


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