Commentary: California should seek payments from gaming tribes

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has presided over a huge expansion of tribal gaming, and tried to get a piece of the action on behalf of taxpayers. He fell short of his promise to extract a billion dollars from casinos owned by California gaming tribes.

But if last week's ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stands, Schwarzenegger stands little chance of ever raising significant money from tribal gambling.

Schwarzenegger is right to appeal, and we urge the court to reconsider.

The case involves the Rincon Band of Luiseño Mission Indians of San Diego County. The tribe owns a 1,600-slot-machine casino operated in partnership with Harrah's Entertainment. By a 2-1 margin, the three-judge panel has put a halt to the state's effort to collect payments from Rincon, and perhaps by extension, other tribes that operate casinos.

The court said the administration bargained in bad faith when it sought payments from Rincon in exchange for granting it another 900 slot machines.

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