In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 7, 2022 at 12:47 am

The pace of climate change is dangerously accelerating.

A psychopathic dictator—Donald Trump—is preparing to overturn democratic rule in the United States.

And COVID-19 continues to ravish the globe—and its economy.

But in California, the most important issue—according to seemingly nonstop TV and Internet ads—is which Indian casinos deserve support.

Two propositions—26 and 27—are on the ballot for the November 8 mid-term elections. And both are dueling for public support.

In the previous column, Proposition 26 was covered in detail. Now for Proposition 27.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office states the change that would occur under Proposition 27:

“Proposition 27 allows tribes or gambling companies to offer online sports betting. It requires tribes and gambling companies that offer online sports betting to make certain payments to the state for specific purposes—such as to support state regulatory costs and to address homelessness. The proposition also creates a new online sports betting regulatory unit. Finally, it provides new ways to reduce illegal online sports betting.

Proposition 27 changes the California Constitution and state law to allow online sports betting over the Internet and mobile devices. People 21 years of age and older in California, who are not on tribal lands, would be able to place bets no later than September 2023. The proposition allows bets on athletic events (such as football games) and some non-athletic events (such as awards shows and video game competitions). However, it bans bets on certain other events such as high school games and elections.” 

The analyst’s office then states what a Yes or No vote on Proposition 27 would mean: 

“A YES vote on this measure means: Licensed tribes or gambling companies could offer online sports betting over the Internet and mobile devices to people 21 years of age and older on non-tribal lands in California. Those offering online sports betting would be required to pay the state a share of sports bets made. A new state unit would be created to regulate online sports betting. New ways to reduce illegal online sports betting would be available.

“A NO vote on this measure means: Sports betting would continue to be illegal in California. No changes would be made to the way state gambling laws are enforced.”   

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Indian tribes themselves are divided on the merits of Proposition 27. It has the support of three tribes—the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians, the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians and the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe. 

The “No on 27” campaign lists 60 Indian tribes that oppose it.

“Prop 27 is a direct attack on Indian self-reliance, and Indian Country overwhelmingly opposes this deceptive measure,” said California Nations Indian Gaming Association Chairman James Siva in a statement.

“Prop 27 jeopardizes Indian gaming and vital funding that both gaming and non-gaming tribes use to provide housing, healthcare, firefighting services, education, cultural preservation, and other services for our communities. That’s why more than 50 California Indian tribes— both gaming and nongaming alike—strongly oppose Prop 27.”

Needless to say, the backers of Proposition 27 have a different view.

According to their website, “Yes On Prop 27”:

“Prop 27 has strict protections to prevent minors from betting, including substantial fines for violators, and it bans betting on youth sports.

“Proposition 27 is the ONLY permanent funding solution for California’s homelessness and mental health crises.

“Prop 27 is the ONLY ballot measure that guarantees hundreds of millions dollars every year to fund mental health treatment and solutions to homelessness and addiction.”

Both sides use misleading language to win support.

Neither the backers—nor opponents—of these propositions mention “gambling” in their advertising. Instead, they refer to “Indian gaming” or “tribal gaming.” As if visitors to casinos aren’t being lured to squander their hard-earned money on the nearest craps table.

As for the term: “Indian self-reliance”: The tribes are playing on white guilt over the treatment of the Indians during the “winning of the West.”

As if Indians can’t support themselves except by taking advantage of people’s greed.

Yet that doesn’t give today’s tribes a moral right to fleece visitors to casinos on Indian reservations.

To understand the real purpose of casinos you need only watch the 1995 film, “Casino.” Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci and Sharon Stone.

It’s based on the nonfiction 1995 book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas, by Nicholas Pileggi. It chronicles the alliance of expert gambler Frank Rosenthal and mobster Anthony Spilotro to run the Tangiers Casino in Las Vegas. 

The movie pulls no punches in explaining the true purpose of a casino. As narrated by the character of Frank Rosenthal:

“Cash. Tons of it. It’s all this money. This is the end result of all the bright lights and the comped trips, of all the champagne and free hotel suites, and all the broads and all the booze. It’s all been arranged just for us to get your money.

“That’s the truth about Las Vegas. We’re the only winners. The players don’t stand a chance. And their cash flows from the tables to our boxes through the cage and into the most sacred room in the casino, the place where they add up all the money. The holy of holies—the count room.”

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