Torres Martinez expects word soon on gambling agreement

The Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla tribe might see some movement on its application for a gambling agreement with the state in the next few weeks.

A gambling compact would be one of the last legal hurdles the tribe would have to cross before opening a casino.

Gov. Gray Davis told the Torres Martinez and other California tribes seeking gambling agreements that they would be advised in August about the type of state compacts they could receive, said Jacob Coin, executive director of the California Nations Indian Gaming Commission.

Davis made specific reference to the Thermal tribe, which has been seeking a gambling compact for nearly four years, Coin said. Davis made his remarks at a CNIGA meeting last week that was closed to the press.

“Were hoping that hell stick to what he told us,” said Gene Madrigal, an attorney for the tribe. “We hope that that means something, that now there will be movement. But for now Im still waiting.”

Tribes asked Davis whether they could sign the 1999 gambling compact that 61 tribes gaming in the state had agreed to, said Amber Pasricha, a spokeswoman for the governor. Davis responded that he would get back to them within the next few weeks, she said.

The Torres Martinez have been requesting the same agreement signed by the other tribes, but the governor has refused so far to negotiate a compact with them, citing a variety of reasons including a past legal challenge to the state gambling law.

Focus Letter: Get a clue about gaming revenues

Jim Franklin’s attributes which qualify him to run for Palm Springs City Council surely don’t include Indian Affairs. He may need a course in Tribal Sovereignty 101. Perhaps he’s never noticed the signs as you enter Palm Springs that say “Entering the Agua Caliente Reservation.”

His premise in his June 21 Valley Voice, “Citizens, too, should benefit from casino revenues,” that the citizens of Palm Springs are “subsidizing” the casinos from “our own pocket” or supporting the casinos with our tax dollars has no basis in fact. We support them by leaving our money in their machines or cash registers.

Talk to the state about Palm Springs’ share of the casino take. It collects between 7 and 13 percent of the proceeds from every machine in every casino for a Special Fund for distribution to the communities. And it wants more. The gaming tribes also give a share to the non-gaming tribes. Does Palm Springs share with Thermal?

The tribes have finally found a way to make a sizable contribution to the general economy. Why is everyone saying, “Gimme, gimme?” No one noticed them before. I’m impressed with their generosity and willingness to share. Would you be that forgiving if you’d been treated the way they’ve been?