Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Stefanie and Proposition 70

An analysis of TV ad supporting Proposition 70

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians introduced Proposition 70 in January, following Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's remarks during his recall campaign that tribes with casinos were not paying their "fair share" and should help relieve California's budget deficit.

The ballot initiative would require casino-owning tribes to pay the state 8.84 percent of their revenues from slot machines and table games. That's the same rate paid by California corporations.

In exchange, they would be allowed to sign 99-year agreements to operate an unlimited number of slot machines and Las Vegas-style games, including roulette and craps, both currently banned in California.

Details of the ad:

_ Title: "Share"

_ Length: 30 seconds

_ Created by: Woodenship Advertising & Public Affairs

_ Aired: Saturday throughout California

_ Dominant images: Actress Stefanie Powers, best known for her role in the 1980s television drama "Hart to Hart," standing with a group of tribal members.

_ Script:

Powers: After centuries of despair, some Indian tribes now have a chance to prosper. Prop. 70 can help Indians and all Californians. Indian casinos would pay the same rates as other California businesses and be required by law to share their revenues with less fortunate tribes. In exchange, Indian casinos can grow but only with environmental review and only on reservations. Vote yes on Prop. 70. It's fair for all Californians.



The commercial, the campaign's last television ad, claims tribes would "now have a chance to prosper" under Proposition 70.

But those tribes have been able to operate casinos and slot machines since 2000, when voters approved an initiative that legalized tribal casinos and ratified compacts about half of the state's tribes signed in 1999. Now, Indian gambling is estimated to be a $5 billion to $6 billion industry.

Today, California tribal casinos have become an estimated $5 billion to $6 billion industry.

The initiative would require casino-owning tribes to continue paying into two funds - one that distributes $1.1 million a year to each tribe without a casino and the other to about 25 counties where tribal casinos are located. This fiscal year, $25 million was released to those counties to address traffic, crime and other problems associated with casinos.

The new compacts Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reached with 10 tribes - nine were ratified by the legislature - eliminated revenues for local governments but still require those tribes to share revenues with tribes without casinos.

The governor's administration estimates those agreements would bring the state as much as 25 percent from gambling revenues, or hundreds of millions of dollars annually plus an additional $1 billion for transportation projects.

Schwarzenegger has claimed the initiative does not go far enough to protect communities and local governments.

Proposition 70 would require tribes to account for environmental impacts from new casinos and casino expansions. Also, they would have to collaborate with communities and local governments to develop plans to address casino-related problems.

The initiative, however, does not elaborate whether "environmental impacts" would include crime or traffic problems.

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