Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Tribal gaming interests at odds over Proposition 48

Dealers practice before the opening of the 340,000-square-foot gambling palace at Graton Casino & Resort in Rohnert Park on October 30, 2013.
Dealers practice before the opening of the 340,000-square-foot gambling palace at Graton Casino & Resort in Rohnert Park on October 30, 2013. pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Buried by the barrage of ads on insurance rates and doctor drug-testing, another high-stakes ballot measure is quietly attracting millions in donations ahead of the November election.

Proposition 48, a referendum on two tribal gaming compacts brokered by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by the Legislature, will ask voters whether or not they want to uphold the deals. Massive gambling revenue is on the line, as are questions about the growing phenomenon of “off-reservation” Indian casinos in California.

Proponents of Proposition 48 – including the North Fork Rancheria band of Mono Indians, the Wiyot tribe and their financial backers from Station Casinos in Las Vegas – argue that the proposal to build a 2,000-slot machine casino off Highway 99 in Madera would create an economic engine in a depressed region of the Central Valley and allow the North Fork tribe to reclaim part of its historic land. The campaign is hosting a media open house today at the North Fork Rancheria in the mountains near Yosemite, which is not where they plan to build the casino.

That’s part of the problem for opponents of the initiative, who make the case that the deal opens the door for more casinos outside established reservations, a limitation that voters approved in a 2000 proposition. But there’s also an aspect of financial rivalry: The main funders of the no campaign are other tribes whose own gaming operations would face more competition with construction of the North Fork casino, as well as their New York investors.

They have seriously outraised the yes campaign – $11.6 million so far this year, compared to only $418,000 by supporters of Proposition 48. Will voters follow the money?

VIDEO: Like a “Seinfeld” episode, slate mailers are much about nothing, Dan Walters says.

FOLLOW THE MONEY: Who’s raking in the campaign cash as election season heats up? The Sacramento Bee’s Capitol Alert Insider Edition app has got you covered. Our new interactive campaign finance tool is updated daily with contribution filings and independent expenditures, as well as running lists of the top donors, recipients, independent expenditure contests and committees. The Insider Edition app is available for download in the iTunes and Google Play stores for mobile and tablet devices. For a district-by-district look, check out Capitol Alert’s legislative election page.

GET ON THE BUS: The latest front in Marshall Tuck’s uphill battle to upset state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson? A bus tour through California. Tuck begins today in San Diego, then continues up through Los Angeles, Fresno, San Jose, Contra Costa County and Oakland over the next four days for school tours and community roundtables.

ALL TOGETHER NOW: Government agencies and other groups spend millions of dollars each year to monitor the state’s water quality and the Delta ecosystem, and the California Water Quality Monitoring Council is working to unify those efforts. The council’s executive director, Jon Marshack, discusses his plan to improve the effectiveness of monitoring through collaboration across organizations, noon at the Park Tower Building on 9th Street, as part of the Delta Science Program’s seminar series.

READ MORE: Vote No on Proposition 48, enough gambling expansion, says The Bee Editorial Board

State schools chief challenger Marshall Tuck wants to change Sacramento, if he can get there

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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