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Tribes fear flooded slot market

27 Aug 2007

SACRAMENTO, California -- As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune: "When two wealthy California Indian tribes took the unusual step of joining the fight to overturn lucrative new gambling deals for a group of rivals, they argued that the compacts encourage big gaming tribes to flood their markets with slot machines.

"The unbridled competition could swamp smaller casinos in outlying areas, particularly in north San Diego County and the Coachella Valley, the tribes' representatives warned.

"The argument is expected to become a major theme of an expensive ballot fight over the compacts.

"...The pending compacts authorize up to 7,500 slots for Pechanga of Temecula and the Morongo band of east Riverside County and up to 5,000 for Sycuan of El Cajon and Agua Caliente of Palm Springs. Those numbers would enable the four tribes to build some of the biggest casinos in the world.

"...Beyond a certain threshold, additional slots tend to earn less as their numbers rise in a casino. The fixed payment was designed to discourage large expansions beyond 3,000 or 3,500 slots in any casino, said Howard Dickstein, an attorney who negotiated the 2004 compacts for Pala of San Diego County and United Auburn of suburban Sacramento.

"This month, Pala and United Auburn contributed $500,000 each to gather signatures to qualify ballot measures that could overturn the four pending compacts..."

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