Three California Indian tribes won agreement Wednesday that the Legislature will not interfere with their attempts to establish satellite-wagering facilities on tribal lands in San Diego and Riverside counties.
In a significant victory for the tribes, Sen. Ken Maddy (R-Fresno) reluctantly agreed to exempt the Cabazon, the Morongo and the Sycuan Band of Mission Indians from a bill designed to prevent a proliferation of new satellite-wagering facilities in California.
Once Maddy announced his concession to the Indians, the measure easily passed the Assembly Governmental Operations Committee by a 10-2 vote. But except for those on lands owned by the three tribes, the bill requires that before any future satellite-wagering facilities can be established they must have legislative approval.
Maddy said afterward that it had become clear that the committee would not approve the legislation as long as it affected the three tribes which have been negotiating for state approval of satellite-wagering facilities.
The senator acknowledged that he had originally authored the legislation in the hope that it would stymie the three tribes' efforts to establish gambling satellites that would be in competition with existing wagering facilities.
"From my point of view we have enough satellite facilities in the state right now," he said.
Of particular concern, Maddy said, were attempts by the Sycuan tribe to set up a facility east of El Cajon in Dehesa that would be in direct competition with the state's largest and most lucrative satellite-wagering facility at the Del Mar Race Track. He said competition would not be as keen from the Cabazon and Morongo tribes because their lands were more distant from existing facilities in Indio and San Bernardino.
The tribes had applied for the facilities under a new federal law which allows Indian tribes to engage in any form of gaming that is legal in the states in which they are located. The law provides that the Indians can establish wagering through a tribal-state "compact" or agreement.
Last March, Gov. George Deukmejian authorized the California Horse Racing Board to negotiate a compact with the Indians which would be presented to him for final approval.
Assemblyman Richard Floyd (D-Carson), the committee chairman, argued that it would be unfair for the Legislature to change the rules for negotiating just as the Indians were about to reach a final agreement with state officials.
"It would be unfair to say the governor has made a mistake and you have been spinning your wheels," he said.
There are 23 satellite facilities in California where gamblers can place bets on horse races and then view them live on closed-circuit television.