California Indian Casinos

Public Law 280 (1953)
In 1953 Congress passed PL 280, 18 Stat. 1152, which gave states some penal authority over Indian peoples in Indian country.

Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Butterworth (1979)

Cabazon Band of Mission Indians (1987)
In 1987 the U.S. Supreme Court decided California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians (1987) 480 U.S. 202, in which it held that California could not regulate high-stakes bingo in Indian country. The Court said that PL 280, did not give states the power to punish Indian peoples from conducting activities that were not prohibited elsewhere in the state. In other words, unless Calfiornia prohibited high-stakes bingo everywhere it could not regulate it in Indian country..

Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (1988)
8 Stat. 1166IGRA, in effect, modified Cabazon by creating three classes of games. Class I, traditional Indian games, could not be regulated by states. Class II, low-stakes games, could be regulated in Indian country the same way as elsewhere in a state. For Class III, high-stakes games, the law provided that tribes and states should negotiate a compact in good faith under the supervision of the Interior Department.

National Indian Gaming Commission

Wilson's Compact (1998)

Proposition 5, The Tribal Government Gaming and Economic Self-Sufficiency Act (1998)
In 1988 most California tribes united to work for the passage of an initiative measure, Prop 5 Prop 5 that would allow high stakes games in Indian country. Despite the fact that former Governor Pete Wilson opposed the measure and attempted to force all California tribes to accept a uniform gaming compact under his interpretation of IGRA, Indian political power triumphed at the polls with 62 percent approval.

Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International v. Davis (1999)
After passage of Prop 5, opponents challenged the constitutionality of the law. On August 23, 1999, the California Supreme Court in Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International v. Davis declared that the initiated statute conflicted with an amendment to the state constitution, Article IV, section 19(e), which had been passed in 1984. In its opinion the majority ruled that, since "the Legislature has no power to authorize, and shall prohibit casinos of the type currently operating in Nevada and New Jersey," Prop 5 can not give Indian casinos in California permission to operate Nevada-type games.

Prop 1A (2000)
Immediately after the court decision, tribes started to collect signatures for a new measure, this time to gather enough names to qualify as an initiated constitutional amendment rather than just a statute, so that it could not be deemed unconstitutional. But the petition process may be unnecessary, since on September 10, the state legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 11, proposing Prop 1A, a constitutional amendment, on the ballot for the statewide election March 7, 2000, that will allow a limited number of casinos. Only one tribe, the Agua Caliente band of Palm Springs, may seek to qualify a competing initiative that will permit more Indian casinos.

Davis Compact (1999)
In the meantime a new state governor, Gray Davis, and 57 Indian leaders negotiated an agreement to allow tribal casinos to use Nevada-style slot machines and card games. The compact, when authorized by the proposed constitutional amendment, will allow each tribe two casinos and 2,000 slot machines and collect a total of about $100 million per year in state taxes.

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