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Alarm Spreads Over California Tribal Agreement

19 August 2004

SACRAMENTO, California – As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle: "Alarm spread quickly Wednesday over a pending agreement between the state and an Indian tribe that would create a huge casino in the heart of the Bay Area, with even the congressman whose legislation helped it along questioning the deal.

"From Washington to Sacramento, leaders were left with mouths agape by the scope of the compact to be announced today between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, which will herald the likely development of a six- to eight-story casino with 5,000 slot machines in the center of San Pablo, less than a quarter mile from Interstate 80.

"The nine-acre site came to the Lyttons as part of legislation by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, who sought to allow the landless tribe to have a parcel of land placed into trust. The tribe currently operates a card room on the land.

"…San Pablo Mayor Barbara Vigil said she was 'shocked' by the terms of a deal that looks to transform her city. In agreeing to back the tribe's quest to acquire land in San Pablo in 2000, she said, 'we envisioned some slot machines, up to 1,000, and bingo games and card games.'

"In bringing about the state's first urban casino, the Lytton compact aims to provide the state with 25 percent of an estimated $500 million in annual casino revenue, while discouraging competing gaming operations from opening within a 35-mile radius. Sources familiar with the deal said that, along with landmark environmental and labor provisions incorporated in five revised compacts Schwarzenegger signed in June, the Lytton compact will contain added provisions to address problem gambling that may flourish in an urban area.

"…But concern about the Lyttons' plan was widespread on Wednesday as lawmakers learned of its scope for the first time, and Indian tribes with their own casino aspirations pondered their strategy in fighting the deal…"

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