California Gaming Tribes 'Squash' Quechan Resort Development
The Legislature adjourned earlier this month without acting on a measure to approve the new gaming compact the Quechans negotiated with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to operate the proposed new 30,000 square foot, two story casino off Interstate 8 in California just west of the AZ/CA line. The opposing tribes contend the new compact has concessions and tighter regulations that state might eventually try to impose on them.
The legislature also failed to act on a gaming compact for the Yurok Tribe in Northern California.
In addition to the new casino, fall groundbreaking ceremonies were cancelled for a six story, 200 room hotel; restaurant; 32,000 square foot special events center; truck stop and other amenities.
Mike Jackson, Quechan Tribal President said opposition from the other California tribes has resulted in a delay of the project that will cost the tribe millions of dollars as well as hundreds of jobs. “We were told before it went to the Legislature there would be no opposition there, except from some from some of the urban tribes. At the time we didn’t understand the nature of their influence with key legislators." (Mike it’s called lobbying! Aren’t you following the Abramoff hearings?)
Jackson later learned those tribes were large contributors to members of the Government Operating Committee which reviews gaming compacts before they go to each body of the Legislature. Referring to the Quechan and Yurok agreements, Jackson said, “our compacts never got out of the committee.”
He added, “No other tribe has any business butting into our business and I won’t let another tribe dictate our future to us. These rich greedy tribes....we’ll definitely fight back.”
Jackson argues the new casino and resort is important to the economic future of the Quechans with revenues needed to fund projects such as the new education complex, senior nutrition center, vocational training program, tribal library and more homes for tribal members. “It would also provide more than 800 jobs.”
The compact negotiated with the California governor would have allowed the Quechans to add more than 1,100 slot machines to their casinos. The tribe currently operates a casino with 475 slot machines on the Arizona side of the reservation – negotiated with Arizona gaming rules - and 347 slots on the California side – right next door. Due to a very convenient bend in the Colorado River – and that’s the truth – Paradise Casino Arizona and Paradise Casino California doors are within a few feet of one another on the California side of the river.
According to the tribe’s attorney, Larry Stidham, legal options are being discussed with the first step likely to be a request for a dispute resolution with the state and it that fails a possible appeal to the federal court.
Even if the tribe gets a new contract in the spring, the southwest desert’s summer heat will preclude any new construction until the fall of 2006.
This column has been edited for content and length from an article in the September 25th edition of the Yuma Sun bylined Joyce Lobeck
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