CSAC Bulletin Article

Governor Newsom Signs Tribal-State Gaming Compact

August 29, 2019

Last week, Governor Newsom signed the first tribal-state gaming compact (Compact) negotiated under his Administration. AB 753 (E. Garcia) would ratify the gaming compact between the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians and the State of California. The Compact includes a two-tiered provision for environmental mitigation, which is included in some of the recent compacts and depends on the number of slot machines the Tribe operates.

Tribes Operating Less than 350 Slot Machines

If the Tribe operates less than 350 slot machines, it is required to adopt a Tribal Environmental Protection Ordinance (TEPO) and prepare a Tribal Environmental Impact Document (TEID). Each TEID must be specific to the project and must address the following impacts:

  • Air quality
  • Water resources
  • Traffic
  • Public services
  • Hazardous materials
  • Noise

The Compact includes procedures to notify the appropriate state agencies and the public. It also includes procedures by which state agencies and members of the public can respond to the initial TEID. Upon the Tribe’s issuance of the report and before the Tribe begins construction, the State and Tribe must enter into a binding and enforceable Mitigation Agreement. The Compact also provides for a dispute resolution process if the State believes the Tribe is out of compliance with any requirements in the Mitigation Agreement. 

Tribes Operating 350 or More Slot Machines

If the Tribe operates 350 or more slot machines, it is required to prepare a comprehensive and adequate tribal environmental impact report (TEIR) to analyze the potentially significant off-reservation environmental impacts of the project. The TEIR must provide detailed information about the significant effects on the environment that the project is likely to have and must include a detailed statement of the information. 

The Compact includes procedures regarding the:

  • Notice of Preparation of Draft TEIR
  • Notice of Completion of Draft TEIR
  • Issuance of Final TEIR

Before starting the project, and prior to issuing the final TEIR to the County and the city, the Tribe must offer to begin government-to-government negotiations with the County.  Upon the County’s acceptance of the Tribe’s offer, the Tribe must negotiate with the County on a government-to-government basis and enter into enforceable written agreements on specified matters.  The Compact provides arbitration procedures to assure that the Tribe is not unreasonably prevented from starting a project.  

 

CSAC continues to advocate for the mitigation of off-reservation impacts of gaming facilities through the adoption of local mitigation agreements. We will keep counties updated as the Newsom Administration continues to sign renegotiated tribal gaming compacts in upcoming years. Several gaming compacts initially approved in 1999 are set to expire at the end of 2020, although those compacts include provisions for automatic extensions to June 30, 2022 if the parties have not agreed to a new or extended compact or an alternative expiration date by December 31, 2020.

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