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California tribes, state duel over security standards

28 April 2008

SACRAMENTO, California -- As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune: "A year after negotiations opened with much promise, California Indian tribes and the state's gambling commission appear headed for a landmark legal showdown over security standards for the $8 billion casino industry.

"The clash could determine not only whether the state can set a benchmark for internal casino security, but whether and under what conditions it could unilaterally impose regulations on the industry.

"That's uncharted legal ground that gaming tribes and the commission have avoided in the eight years since California voters legalized Indian casinos.

"But the commission's chairman, a plain-spoken former police chief who has cultivated a cooperative relationship with tribes, appears to have run out of patience.

"Dean Shelton told tribes at a hearing late last month that like it or not, the state will establish and begin enforcing minimum security standards in tribal casinos. Many tribes, whose gaming commissions spend millions each year on security, believe the state does not have that authority. "Turn us down if you wish. Take us to court," Shelton said. "I'm not threatening you. I'm being honest with you." In response, a number of tribes and their attorneys appear to be bracing for battle.

"...For the past year, the commission and tribal attorneys have been haggling over a regulation that would set minimum criteria for security in the state's 57 Nevada-style Indian casinos.

"...The National Indian Gaming Commission developed and enforced a set of internal controls until late 2006, when a federal court concluded the agency lacked that authority..."

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