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Official: Rincon ruling reflects BIA policy

11 June 2008

SACRAMENTO, California -- As reported by the San Diego Union Tribune: "A federal judge's ruling that California cannot demand more gaming revenue in exchange for allowing San Diego County's Rincon band to expand its casino reflects a long-standing policy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal official testified yesterday.

"'Whenever we see a revenue-sharing provision in a tribal-state compact, it sends up a red flag,' said Paula Hart, director of the BIA's Office of Indian Gaming Management, which reviews tribal-state gambling agreements, or compacts.

"The Bureau of Indian Affairs has not formally weighed in on the litigation, but its endorsement of the April 29 ruling appears to add significant new weight to Rincon's case and could make it more difficult for the state to negotiate lucrative new Indian gaming deals.

"Federal law bars states from imposing 'a tax, fee, charge or other assessment upon an Indian tribe' to engage in Nevada-style gambling, Hart told the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

"The key word in that passage is 'impose,' Hart said. With that in mind, she said the BIA looks for'"meaningful and significant concessions' from a state in exchange for gaming revenues for purposes other than regulatory costs.

"...The judge has put a temporary hold on his order that the tribe and state try to negotiate a change to the gambling pact. The governor's attorneys are asking him to make it permanent.

"But Rincon's attorneys say the tribe will be hurt financially if they can't add slot machines while an appeals court rules on the case.

"On Monday, the lawyers asked the judge to order the state to put up a $101.3 million bond if it is not ordered into negotiations.

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