September 9, 2005

Calif. governor agrees to two more Indian casinos

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger on Friday said he has struck deals with two
Indian tribes to build adjacent casinos in the Southern
California desert city of Barstow.

Last year, gambling revenue at American Indian casinos rose
12 percent to nearly $19 billion, and Schwarzenegger has been
seeking to capture even more of that stream for California.

Under the agreements, the Big Lagoon Rancheria and the Los
Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians will pay the state
between 16 percent and 25 percent of net winnings from slot
machines and banked card games.

In addition, the Los Coyotes Band agreed to give up the
right to conduct gaming on its tribal lands in San Diego
County, and Big Lagoon Rancheria agreed to refrain from
building a casino or other commercial development on its lands
along the coast of northern California.

"These agreements are a creative solution for avoiding the
construction of a casino on California's coast and alongside a
State ecological preserve, while respecting the tribes' federal
right to engage in gaming," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.

The deal also resolves the Big Lagoon Rancheria's
long-standing lawsuit against California and responds to
Barstow's efforts to attract an Indian gaming facility, he

The two casinos will be built on a single site in Barstow,
said Vince Sollitto, a spokesman for the governor.

Schwarzenegger in June approved gaming compacts with the
Yurok and Quechan tribes that called for payment to the state
of at least 10 percent of revenue. "Those tribes were two of
the largest in the state. Given their unique economic needs,
those were the terms of the compact," Sollitto said.

Each Barstow casino will generate $86 million to $109
million annually in net win over the first seven years,
according to estimates by the tribes.

The state said it should earn $23 million to $31 million a
year from the unified casino project during the first seven

The gaming compacts still need to be ratified by the State
Legislature and approved by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.