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Homework Assignment: Tribal Casinos

By   /   January 23, 2013  /   14 Comments

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Before all the rumors start, I would like to address some facets and provide everyone with links and comments that would be useful for whatever side of the issue of a casino located on sovereign Indian tribal land located within the city limits of Twentynine Palms.

When it comes to land use decisions, neither the City of Twentynine Palms Planning Commission nor the City Council has little to say in the matter. As noted in the “Tribal Gaming and Community Planning in California” published by the California Planning Roundtable page 5;

“The principles of tribal sovereignty apply to authority over land use regulation. Most land use regulation in California is under the authority of cities and counties, granted by express provisions of state law (e.g. the planning and zoning laws and Subdivision Map Act), or the broad delegation of “police power” to cities and counties. However, city and county (and state) regulation of tribal land use has “long been preempted by extensive Federal policy and legislation,” making tribes exempt from such authority.”

Link to document noted above and some of the quotes that follow: http://www.cproundtable.org/media/uploads/pub_files/TGnCP.bw__.pdf

Where there are Environmental concerns;

“the federal government has the authority to apply federal laws to tribal governments. Under this authority, tribes are subject to certain federal laws that address environmental protection, with the potential for affecting the siting, design, and operation of tribal gaming facilities. The most important federal environmental laws affecting tribal casino development are:

  • Environmental, public health, and safety provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act
  • The National Environmental Policy Act
  • The National Historic Preservation Act
  • The Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act
  • The Clean Air Act
  • The Endangered Species Act”

Now you might ask about CEQA, well, it does not apply.

“CEQA requires environmental review of projects undertaken by state and local governments, including private developments that require the discretionary approval of a state or local public agency. However, state laws apply on tribal lands only as provided by Congress, and CEQA is not one of those laws.”


“While tribes are not subject to CEQA, local and state governments extending infrastructure to tribal casinos, or those making other discretionary decisions that support casino development with the potential for affecting the physical environment, may themselves be subject to CEQA. Thus, if a state or local agency approves funding of a particular road project to serve a tribal casino, that decision may be subject to CEQA. The state or local agency must analyze the direct and indirect impacts of building the infrastructure.”

With that being said, there is another website that provides information concerning gambling within California. It is called the California Gambling Control Commission and here is that link. http://www.cgcc.ca.gov/

They oversee a wide verity of gambling aspect including but not limited to Tribal gaming.

“The Commission, pursuant to the Tribal-State Gaming Compacts, the Gambling Control Act, the Governor’s Executive Order D-31-01 and Governor’s Executive Order D-66-03, has various fiduciary, regulatory and administrative responsibilities related to Tribal gaming and the distribution of revenues to Non-Compact Indian Tribes.”

As mentioned above there is a Tribal-State Gaming Compact. It was execution date of the contract was October 8th, 1999 with an expiration date of December 31st, 2020 and has never been amended. In that contract they were granted Class III Gaming, with provisions to pay a revenue distribution in the Special Distribution Fund setup by the state. This “fund” was to be used for some of the following;

Grants, including any administrative costs, for programs designed to address gambling addiction; and

Grants, including any administrative costs, for the support of state and local government agencies impacted by tribal government gaming.

There was an Assembly Bill (No. 2515) that made changes to amend Section 12715 of the Government Code concerning local agencies http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_2501-2550/ab_2515_bill_20120928_chaptered.pdf

In that change it appropriate $9,100,000 from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund to the California Gambling Control Commission to provide grants to local agencies for the 2012–13 fiscal year. The law establishes an Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee which would be composed of seven representatives. There would be three elected representatives from cities located within four miles of a tribal casino in the county, selected by the county board of supervisors.

This is just some of the issues that I could address from comments that I have heard in the past. There is more information out there than I could get into. I would be typing a novel if I attempted to cover everything. I encourage all interested parties to do your homework.

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  1. In spite of the National Park frowning on a casino with a billion watts of lighting nestled up against Park boundaries, this issue may return.

    Thanks Cory for putting up this info for the public.


    Has anyone taken a look at tribal burial grounds in 29 on Adobe? If those were my ancestors, I would want to spend a little cash and a put up a historic plaque and improve the site. I am aware of the history and whom is responsible for its maintenance.

    Briefly: Later various organizations had the charge then then Parks & Recreation — but nevertheless The 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians need to pay attention and show more respect for their long-gone ancestors.

    Personally–kick me in the groin for saying this–but given all the money the small tribe makes on their Coachella Valley casino, there is little reason to neglect the sacred burial grounds.

    The 29 Band of Mission Indians (last I read there were 13 members) can build a second casino but neglect their burial grounds. It’s not right.

    My opinion.

  2. Mike Hawkins Mike Hawkins says:

    It is not your land They are not your ancestor’s graves. You know little of their culture and it’s none of your concern! You just cannot stop yourself from sticking your big nose in everybody else’s business can you? If it bothers you so much, you could talk to the family about it personally, and privately, instead of criticizing them in a public forum. You are a thoughtless jerk Branson!

    • I know more about Indian culture than might think, old bearded one. I am going to research this and put up a story about it. I’m sure you will want to read it. If you were not so old, fat and lazy you could write a few stories yourself. In a previous life before I moved here I was emerged in Indian culture.

      Dead people deserve respect, don’t you agree.

  3. Carey Alderson Carey Alderson says:

    Let me give a really short history lesson on how all this got started.

    December 13, 2007 the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians issued a press release for a plan concerning the first phase of a multi-million dollar, multi-phased economic development project to be built entirely on and within its 160-acre reservation in Twentynine Palms that would have been called the Nuwu Casino Resort & RV Park. Phase 1 of the Tribe’s development would have included an approximate 60,000-square-foot casino, a 100+-space KOA RV campground, and miles of hiking trails. Subsequent phases would have included a 100+-room national brand resort hotel, 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater, retail center, golf course and residential properties.

    June 24, 2008 the City of Twentynine Palms City Council hears a staff report that includes the key points of a potential Municipal Services Agreement between the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians and other local agencies.
    In the “agreement” there would have been $52,125 paid towards law enforcement.
    $1,000,000 for a fully equipped 100′ aerial fire apparatus for use on the six-story hotel, $40,000 for training, $750,000 for construction, and $161,250 paid on a quarterly basis for operations and response to emergencies on tribal lands.

    (For the first year that would have been $2,435,000 just for fire protection. Then $645,000 yearly (adjustable))

    Other items that were in the report can be seen at this link:

    They include road construction/reconstruction of Adobe Rd.($1,000,000), plus the cost for Baseline, Desert Knoll. and Twilight, also $75,000 annually to other roadways.
    $2,000,000 to Joshua Tree National Park for the planned Cultural Center

    Right about this point everyone jumps on a band wagon claiming they are right and the other guy is wrong. The Tribe attempts to build in Joshua Tree. Dianne Feinstein adds her 2 cents on November 10, 2011.

    Well now, as of January 22, 2013, as you might have heard the project seems to have been scaled down to a 30,000sqft casino and moved back to Twentynine Palms. 30,000sqft is about the size of Stater’s.

    I might have left a few things out. I will not include all the rumors that I have heard about who “won” and why. I will leave you to search for those answers to the homework.

    • I think it is about time for you to consider becoming an attorney. Someone should be paying you for all this research unless you are still on the payroll at Cactus Thorns!

      (and Cory, no typos in your story either…just a couple of missing space bars, Wow!)

      I attended their outreach inviting the ENTIRE Morongo Basin and was very pleased with the elegant design of the casino which looked like a 5-star Spa in Sedona. Unfortunately they will not be bringing in any sales or bed tax revenue to Twentynine Palms.

      Here is a link for more information: http://wp.joshuatreestar.com/?p=1438


      • Carey Alderson Carey Alderson says:

        Thank you for the suggestion but I remember and somewhat agree with a quote by King Henry VI.

        And you are correct no “direct” sales tax. The best case scenario is that other businesses would follow the casinos lead and build within the city, some businesses would expand or adjust to the influx of new bodies coming in.

        In the original Municipal Services Agreement between the City and the Tribe they agreed to pay the TOT which currently sits at 9%.

        And if you recall from above, there would be monies available from the Distribution Fund.

  4. Carey Alderson Carey Alderson says:

    Not really sure where all this is going concerning the burial grounds.

    I would like to believe that at some point in all this back and forth, that everyone would turn back to the subject that this was originally written for.

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