Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 81

SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION A 2013 Beacon Economics report sponsored by the California Gaming Asso- ciation estimated that card rooms gener- ated over $1.8 billion in economic output in 2012, creating more than 22,700 jobs and over 270 million in tax revenue, while a 2016 Beacon Economics report sponsored by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association estimated that tribal gaming operations created $7.8 billion in econom- ic output in 2014, creating over 63,000 jobs statewide. That report also found sig- nificant growth in tribal gaming, creating 13 percent more jobs between 2012 and 2014. While tribal gaming is a relatively new and still-evolving industry in California, privately owned card halls date back to the California Gold Rush. The California Grand Casino in Pacheco just 60 miles west of Sacramento is the world’s oldest continuously-run poker hall, having operated since 1864. Saloons were never far from wherev- er miners mined, but timeless recreations that they are, gambling and drinking hav- en’t always been as socially acceptable. From 1920 to 1933 Americans collectively suffered the 13-year hiccup of prohibition, but today many families treat craft brew- eries like an extension of the living room. Though Californians may not generally think of tribal casinos and card halls with the same familiarity as the neighborhood brewery, statistics suggest that public opinion towards gambling is slowly trend- ing favorably. In 2013, a public opinion poll conduct- ed by the American Gaming Association found that 85 percent of Americans think that gaming is acceptable for themselves or others, and the 2016 CNIGA study found that 60 percent of legislating lead- ers with a tribal casino in its community believe it has a positive impact. Recent reports say that 62 of the 109 California tribes operate casinos, but with 78 entities still petitioning for federal rec- ognition, the economic output of tribal ca- sinos will continue to grow if more casinos are built. But while established and new casinos create jobs and induce economic output through contracts with local ven- dors, ultimately these casinos are tax-ex- empt. “It’s like California can’t tax Arizona,” explains Susan Jensen, the Executive Di- rector of CNIGA “It’s illegal to tax a tribal government. But, Jensen adds, unlike card rooms, “tribal government gaming is the only form of gaming that is mandated on how to use its net revenue.” According to the Indian Gaming Regu- latory Act of 1988, net revenue from tribal gaming must either fund tribal govern- ment operations, provide welfare for the tribe and its members, promote econom- ic development, be donated to charitable organizations, or fund the operations of local government agencies. Each tribe’s compact with the state of California, which gives each tribe the right to operate a casi- “WE’RE MORE INTERESTED IN ATTRACTING QUALITY BUSINESSES AND SAFE OPERATIONS, AND THE LARGER ECONOMIC IMPACT FROM STONES [GAMBLING HALL] IS THAT THEY ARE ANCHORING THE GROWTH IN A COMMERCIAL AREA THAT IS IN MUCH NEED OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.” - Christopher Boyd, city manager, Citrus Heights no, establishes payments by the tribe to a Special Distribution Fund, which, says Jen- sen, “is distributed into cities and counties that are impacted directly from the casi- nos.” In addition, many tribes enter Mem- orandums of Understanding with local municipalities to help offset off-reserva- tion impact and infrastructure costs. For example, Thunder Valley paid the Placer County Sheriff’s Office $2.4 million during the 2017 and 2018 fiscal year, but also an- nually contributes $15 million to the state’s general fund, and an additional $18 mil- lion annually to the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, from which up to $1.1 million is allo- cated to each California tribe without gam- ing operations. November 2018 | 81