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Official clears way for California casino votes

23 November 2007

CALIFORNIA -- As reported by the North County Times: "California's chief election official has cleared the way for voters to decide on several casino expansions, though two of the four Indian tribes involved plan to renew legal efforts to keep the referenda off the Feb. 5 ballot.

"Under deals the state government approved earlier this year, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and three other tribes would be allowed to add as many as 17,000 slot machines to the 8,000 now at their casinos. Pechanga would be allowed to add 5,500 machines to its current 2,000. The new slots could be installed in a casino that Pechanga already has permission to build on its 5,500-acre reservation, which borders Temecula's south side.

"But a coalition of a hotel workers union, a horse-track owner and a handful of other tribes circulated petitions to bring the four deals ---- known as compacts ---- before voters in February. Secretary of State Debra Bowen ruled Friday that the coalition had obtained more than the necessary 433,000 signatures to put the Pechanga expansion to voters. Bowen signed off Monday on similar ballot measures pertaining to the Sycuan tribe east of El Cajon, the Agua Caliente tribe in the Palm Springs area and the Banning-area Morongo tribe.

"...Pechanga will appeal that ruling, Chairman Mark Macarro said Tuesday.

"...A spokesman for the four tribes said they are continuing their campaign to sway voters..."

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