Casino War - California battle lines drawn

Opponents of three Riverside County tribes' casino-expansion agreements with the state have started running a TV ad, only days before absentee voters can begin casting ballots for the Feb. 5 election.

The ballot includes referendum measures on the pacts and another targeting a San Diego County tribe.

The commercial, which aired during New Year's Day bowl games, alleges that the tribes "cut themselves a Sacramento deal" that goes far beyond what voters wanted when they authorized tribal gambling in 2000.

Supporters of the deals have been airing pro-agreement television ads for months.

The pacts between the state and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Banning, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians near Temecula, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in the Coachella Valley, and the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians in San Diego County would let the tribes install up to 17,000 additional slot machines.

In return, the tribes would pay the state a larger share of casino revenue.

The Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park horse-racing tracks; the Unite Here restaurant and hotel employees union; and two other gambling tribes, the Pala Band of Mission Indians in northern San Diego County and the United Auburn tribe near Sacramento, have spent millions to overturn the agreements, known as compacts.

On Monday, the United Auburn tribe contributed $4.5 million to the effort, the largest single donation so far to the anti-compact campaign.


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