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Calif. tribes to expand slot machines

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signs new agreements with five Native American tribes Monday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed new agreements with five American Indian tribes Monday that will allow a major expansion of tribal gambling in exchange for billions of dollars in payments to the state over the next quarter-century.

The deal allows an unlimited increase in the number of slot machines at the Indian tribes’ casinos. The current compact, signed by then-Gov. Gray Davis in 1999, limits each tribe to 2,000 machines.

The tribes will pay the state a badly needed $1 billion this year and $250 million a year after that until 2030.

The agreement allows Schwarzenegger to fulfill a campaign promise to make tribes pay a greater share of their casino profits to the state, which has been desperately trying to close multibillion-dollar budget deficits.

The tribes are the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, the United Auburn Indian Community, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and the Pauma Band of Mission Indians.

Schwarzenegger hopes to have new agreements with as many as a dozen Indian tribes, but not all are receptive to the reworked deals.

One tribe, the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, has sponsored a ballot measure that would allow expanded Indian gaming in return for a payment to the state of 8.8 percent of tribal net income.

Schwarzenegger is seeking more than that. He also opposes another ballot measure that seeks to tax tribes 25 percent and could allow card rooms and racetracks to operate slot machines.