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Problems Revealed in California Tribal Commission

19 October 2004

SANTA YNEZ, California – As reported by LA Times: "Gilbert Cash would have no chance of working as a blackjack dealer at one of the major hotels on the Las Vegas Strip.

"The reason: Cash has filed for personal bankruptcy four times and failed to pay about $60,000 in income taxes. He also is awaiting trial on charges of choking and beating his estranged wife — allegations he denies.

"Yet as chairman of the gaming commission at the Chumash Casino Resort, Cash, 38, oversees more than $1 billion in wagering each year. Nor is he the only regulator at the Santa Barbara County casino with a troubled past.

"…At least seven of 16 tribal members who have served on the gaming commission during the past decade have backgrounds that almost certainly would preclude them from working at, much less regulating, casinos in Nevada and New Jersey.

"…Key security jobs at the Chumash Casino are held by relatives of gaming commissioners — an arrangement prohibited by casinos in other states.

"…Such problems are 'somewhat inevitable when tribes are given the power to regulate themselves,' said I. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School who is a leading authority on gambling and an advisor to state regulators.

"Tribal leaders contend that the success of the Chumash Casino shows that their patrons have full confidence in the integrity of the operation. They say their tribe — the Santa Ynez Band of Mission Indians — has taken corrective measures whenever infractions have been uncovered.

"…Those winnings have brought the tribe startling wealth. Since 2000, each of the band's 153 members has collected more than $1 million in casino proceeds, according to confidential records. In July, members voted to give themselves a 10% raise, bringing their monthly checks to nearly $30,000 each.

"The casino' "is our primary source of income'," Armenta said. 'Do you think we're going to allow something illegal to happen there?'…"

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