#REFUSE THE MEASURE: Mayor of Commerce Oralia Rebollo; Compton Mayor Emma Sharif; Alejandra Cortez, Alderman of Bell Gardens; Juan Garza, executive director of the California Cities for Self-Reliance Joint Powers Authority; Brenda Villa, four-time Olympian and gold medalist in water polo; Hawaiian Garden Council member Jesse Alvarado and others at the press conference calling on Los Angeles voters to reject the measure in the November election.
By Brian Hews
May 27, 2022 ~ Los Angeles-area elected officials and four-time Commerce Olympic champion Brenda Villa gathered at Commerce to expose the detrimental local impacts on city jobs and revenue if the Tribal Sports Betting Initiative eligible for the November ballot is adopted.
If passed, it threatens the future of community programs like the Commerce Senior Center Breakfast (where the press conference is being held).
Collectively, the Los Angeles area stands to lose at least $71.1 million in direct general fund tax revenue if the Qualifying Tribal Gaming initiative is passed by voters, severely limiting the local government’s ability to fund public health, homeless services, seniors programs, after-school programs, and a myriad of vital public services.
Participants were Juan Garza, California Cities for Self-Reliance Joint Powers Authority; Brenda Villa, four-time Olympic water polo champion; Oralia Rebollo, Mayor, City of Commerce; Emma Sharif, Mayor, City of Compton; Hawaiian Gardens City Council Member Jesse Alvarado and Bell Gardens City Council Member Alejandra Cortez
They say the initiative would fuel excessive litigation against gambling halls, potentially shutting them down, effectively killing 32,000 jobs and wiping out $1.6 billion in annual wages.
The initiative is supported by Pechanga Resort Casino as well as several companies and public safety, social and community justice and tribal groups – has no official name but is called the Tribal Sports Betting Act.
It would allow sports betting at tribal casinos and at four California racetracks – Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Los Alamitos Race Course in Cypress, Del Mar in San Diego and Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley.
Opponents say the measure would give tribal casinos a virtual monopoly on all games in California – adding exclusivity on roulette, craps and sports betting to their current monopoly on slots.
They argue it would also expand the Private Attorney General Act, allowing tribal casinos to hire private litigators, replacing the role of the state attorney general to sue card rooms and potentially forcing them to shut down their businesses. gates due to costly litigation.
Fears are “misinterpreted”
Unaware that tribes will access new revenue streams and expose gambling halls to new lawsuits, Kathy Fairbanks, spokesperson for the Coalition for Safe and Responsible Gambling, enlightened gambling halls by saying that the fears surrounding the initiative had been misinterpreted.
“Our measure simply ensures that existing laws preventing illegal gambling are respected,” she said.
Opponents of the Pechanga initiative still fear that a tribal casino monopoly on gambling and increased PAGA litigation will prove too costly to fight and could lead to the closure of gambling halls.
Bell Gardens Councilwoman Alejandra Cortez said bicycling generates nearly 50%, or $15 million, of the city’s revenue. If the bike were forced to close, the impact would be catastrophic, she said.
“We got a preview of what it would look like when we were to close in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cortez said. “It was closed for nine months and it resulted in a loss of about $10 million.”
Cortez said these are essential funds that help pay for policing, public works and other basic services needed to keep the city going.
Hawaiian Gardens would take an even bigger hit, according to Councilman Jesse Alvarado.
“The Gardens Casino, which has operated in the City of Hawaiian Gardens for 22 years, is a vital partner to our entire community – providing more than 70% of our city’s total general fund revenue,” Alvarado said.
The money, he said, has played a vital role in the city’s ability to fight crime and roll back major gang control issues.
“If the Qualifying Tribal Gaming initiative becomes law, it would devastate our community,” Alvarado said.
Commerce Mayor Oralia Rebollo said Commerce Casino generates about 46% of her city’s annual revenue and has never been accused of money laundering.
“They’ve always been transparent, so we’ve never had to put up with those kinds of issues,” she said. “I’m proud of the way the casino is run.”