Augustine Cahuilla Tribe accuses California of making ‘excessive’ gaming compact demands

Augustine Cahuilla Tribe accuses California of making ‘excessive’ gaming compact demands

The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians (ABCI), one of the smallest Native American tribes in the United States, has accused the state of California government and Governor Gavin Newsom of demanding improper compact provisions and denying meaningful concessions.

Claiming that California and Governor Newsom failed to negotiate in good faith, ABCI filed a lawsuit in a federal court. The federal court accuses the state authorities of demanding compact provisions that are not proper subjects under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) as well as of neglecting to offer meaningful concessions that it is obligated to offer.

The small Native American tribe’s original gaming compact with the state was signed last year, and it is due to expire on 30th of June next year. That means both sides will have to renegotiate the gaming agreement under the terms of IGRA.

But, the filing of the federal lawsuit has created uncertainty over the compact. ABCI has accused the state authorities of making excessive payment demands. As per the tribe, the excessive demands made by Gov. Newsom’s administration includes the provision for the government to enact new labor laws to replace existing laws that were approved by the administration in 2000.

The state has reportedly demanded compliance on various issues, ranging from workers’ minimum wages to environmental laws. In addition, the state wants the native tribe to make larger payments into various state funds. The tribe argues that the payments being demanded by the state negotiators are disproportionate to the amounts paid by other tribes.

As ABCI’s gaming compact with the state is set to expire in 2022, the federally-recognized tribe is concerned that it could be accused of offering illegal gambling if negotiations aren’t concluded before the expiration of its compact. Actually, the tribe wants a court order for the state to allow it to continue to offer gaming activities in accordance with its existing compact until the issue is resolved.

In California, a total of 109 federally-recognized tribes enjoy exclusive rights to operate casinos on their reserved territories under the terms of their compacts. Many of these tribes have to renegotiate their gaming compacts with the state from time to time. Some of them are obviously not happy with the state’s demands. In April this year, a federal judge in Fresno asked the state authorities to provide the tribes with meaningful concessions if they wanted them to comply with the state laws.