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Poll: Californians Oppose Tribal Gaming Expansion

9 May 2006

CALIFORNIA -- (PRESS RELEASE) -- Two-thirds of California voters oppose growing efforts by some Indian tribes to build casinos in urban centers of the state, according to the results of a new statewide survey released today by the East Bay Coalition Against Urban Casinos.

The survey of 800 voters also shows that more than 70 percent of respondents want the Federal and state government to take action to close exemptions and loopholes in current laws that allow tribes to build casinos wherever they want, even if local communities don't want them.

A number of bills presently moving through the process in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento would address holes in gaming laws that make it possible for tribes to actively propose and plan for multiple casinos in heavily urbanized parts of the state -- like the East San Francisco Bay Area and Orange County.

"This poll clearly demonstrates that the public does not buy into the outrageous claims made by proponents of urbanized gaming," said Professor William Thompson, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of a recently published economic analysis of the Casino San Pablo. "Local casinos will only bring more economic harm than benefit, along with the numerous social ills resulting in increased crime, traffic, and domestic abuse."

The survey also showed that nearly 70 percent opposed the practice of "reservation shopping," where tribes from distant rural areas try to buy land in urban areas -- usually with funding from non-Indian investors -- and have the government take the land in trust for them so they can build casinos.

"In the case of three proposed Indian casinos within the Richmond-San Pablo area, including the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians' $200 million casino targeted right in our backyard of North Richmond, the actual lands of the Indian groups are 100 or more miles away," said Andres Soto, coalition co-chair of Communities United to Stop Urban Casinos, a group of Bay Area residents concerned about the expansion of urban casinos in their local communities. "These results show that if people were given a legitimate chance to determine the future of their local communities by voting on whether or not casinos could be built, that the vast majority of Californians would soundly reject it."

Almost 70 percent of those surveyed agreed that California cities are not designed to handle the impacts of major problems caused by the huge Las Vegas-style casinos proposed by tribes -- like traffic gridlock, increased crime, environmental problems and social problems caused by compulsive gambling.

The survey of 800 California voters by the Washington, D.C. firm Voter/Consumer Research had margin or error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

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