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Bits and Pieces from Indian Country - November 2004

2 May 2005

The battle has been joined in California; Governor Arnold sent a cease and desist letter to several tribes warning them that their Class II games are not Class II, but Class III. Not surprisingly, the tribes disagree. Morongo has built a full 1800 slot machine casino around the Class II lottery games. The California debate has major national implications. If the tribes are successful, it will create huge opportunities for slot manufacturers and other tribes to expand gaming past the control or revenue sharing designs of state or local governments. If the governor and his staff win, it will strengthen the position of other states attempting to limit or at least profit from the growth of Indian casinos. The first meeting took place on Tuesday, November 30th so it is too soon to predict the outcome. However, it is a certain bet that all of the manufacturers have reserved tickets on the fifty-yard line. Multi-Media, though not a player in this game, received the first penalty, fifteen yards for offensive holding.

Schwarzenegger's legal affairs secretary, Peter Siggins, sent letters to the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians near Temecula and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Palm Springs stating that the tribes were trying to skirt compacts…."These [video lottery terminals] are the same size as slot machines, have slot-style glass faceplates with slot machine-style pay tables and slot machine configurations," the letters said. Pechanga has 271 of the devices, and Morongo has 225 at a casino and at a nearby gas station, Siggins wrote. Morongo plans to install another 1,800 at a casino set to open Nov. 15. Dan Morain, Los Angeles Times, 11-9-04

Turning up the pressure in a high-stakes legal standoff, the Schwarzenegger administration yesterday asked the manufacturer of a controversial video lottery machine to withdraw the devices from two California Indian casinos. If the company, Multimedia Games of Texas, refuses to cooperate, it could be banished from doing business in the state, the governor's attorney warned in a letter that some believe is aimed at a broader audience. "It is our view that Multimedia Games Inc., as a licensed gaming resource supplier, has an obligation to cooperate with the state in securing the removal of these (games) . . . in order to assure that it is not abetting a violation of state and federal law," attorney Peter Siggins wrote. James P. Sweeney, Copley News Service, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11-17-04

…called Tuesday's meeting very technical and spirited at times, but said it did not resolve the state's very serious concerns about Morongo's expansion. …A second meeting has been scheduled Dec. 13, but the matter could move to federal court if the state and tribe fail to reach an agreement by early January. Siggins said he expects to meet next week with the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, a second Riverside County tribe using video lottery terminals. John Hubble, San Francisco Chronicle, 12-1-04

The case of the gaming consultants that worked both sides of the table and worked members of Congress continues. A couple more days of hearings and some more coverage by the press have not turned up anything new; but have served to amplify the underlying crassness of the two consultants and their attitude towards Indians and politicians. The hearings will continue next year, and at this time it appears that there may be a couple of members of Congress who are caught in the web of intrigue.

In what could be his final words to the Senate panel he heads, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, the Senate's only native American, told a Washington consultant Wednesday that he represented the kind of people who have been defrauding American Indians for four centuries. Michael Scanlon replied with seven assertions of his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against himself. His refusal to speak came at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on allegations that he and a companion bilked Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars while representing them on casino issues. Jim Abrams, Associated Press, 11-17-04

A Louisiana Indian tribe has sued a Washington lobbyist and consultant for the $32 million it paid to keep another tribe from opening a competing casino nearby. The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana sued lobbyist Jack Abramoff and public relations consultant Michael Scanlon on Tuesday, the day before a Senate committee hearing about $66 million paid by the Coushattas and five other tribes. Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press, New Orleans Times-Picayune, 11-17-04

A Texas Indian tribe …paid two Washington insiders $4.2 million to try to persuade Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio, to slip crucial language into a bill…The language did not end up in the 2002 Election Reform Act, but the tab for doing business in Washington came due anyway for the Tigua tribe of El Paso. …The documents also show that the Tiguas paid $25,000 into Ney's political action committee, gave $300,000 to the two political parties and signed on to a plan to enlist the vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee to approach Dodd on their behalf. Susan Schmidt, Washington Post, 11-17-04

The story does take a slightly different turn as it becomes a PBS version of "reality TV".
It is hard to say what the impact of the program will be, but it is certain that tribes have rarely had as large of an audience to tell their story to as this. Millions of people who have little knowledge of Indian gaming, Indian law or any of the issues of Indian country will get a view of some of the issues. That can't be all bad.

"NOW with Bill Moyers" will feature the Tiguas in a program about Washington insiders taking advantage of Native American tribes…Tigua leaders will testify Wednesday before a U.S. Senate committee …and PBS will feature the tribe Friday night in a nationally televised program investigating how prominent Washington lobbyists deal with Native American tribes across the country. …"I'm thinking they will try to get the human side of it and how it feels and the emotions of it," Carlos Hisa, lieutenant governor of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, said of the Senate hearing. Gary Scharrer, El Paso Times, 11-17-04

Actually, the idea of rather unpleasant people competing for "spoils" is the story line of reality TV; the difference in this one is significant. Both sides did not have the same set of rules and at least one tribe, Tigua, did not even recognize the existence of the game. I suppose it isn't surprising that there are people with such disrespect for American Indians as our history is hardly one of respect and cooperation. Each era in the relationship between Americans and American Indians has had people who tried to help the tribes and those who simply sought to exploit an opportunity, Indian tribes and their individual tribal members. The advent of the Indian gaming era is no exception.

Yesterday, the mayor asked the Legislature to repeal the 1675 Indian Imprisonment Act, the Colonial law authorizing the arrest of American Indians who enter the city of Boston. The law, enacted during the bloody conflict known as King Philip's War, has not been enforced for centuries. Armed guards no longer stand at the outskirts of Boston, as the law has stipulated for nearly 330 years, on the lookout for Native Americans who might seek entry into the city. Indians in Boston are no longer required to be escorted around town by two musketeers. And yet, the Legislature has never gotten around to taking the law off the books. Yvonne Abraham, Boston Globe, 11-25-04

The attempt to repeal the 1675 Indian Imprisonment Act certainly illustrates a historical attitude; it also illustrates how slow we are to change that attitude. I am not saying as a nation nor as individuals that we are racist, but there are times while reading the daily news about Indian casinos and their adversaries that I am a bit confused about the intent or spirit of the adversaries.

But now, that is simply my opinion, isn't it?

Ken

Ken Adams

Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.
Ken Adams
Ken Adams is the principal in the gaming consulting firm, Ken Adams and Associates. Formed in 1990, Ken Adams and Associates specializes in information, analysis, and strategic planning for Indian tribes, casino operations and gaming manufacturers.

Ken spent over 20 years in the hotel-casino industry, prior to founding Ken Adams and Associates. He held the positions of: Director of Casino Operations, Casino Manager, and Keno Department Manager. During this time, he developed numerous innovative marketing and customer development programs and systems for evaluating casino performance. Some of those programs, such as slot clubs and tournaments, have become industry standards.

Ken is also actively involved in gathering and disseminating information that is important to the gaming industry. He is editor and publisher of and the Adams' Report, a monthly newsletter specializing in identifying trends in casino gaming, regulation and manufacturing, the Adams Daily Report, an electronic newsletter that provides electronic links to the key gaming stories of the day, and the Adams Review, a special report distributed by Compton Dancer Consulting that provides editorial commentary on gaming trends.