Indian Gambling Measure Blocked
Dec. 03, 1998
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The state Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked enforcement of a ballot initiative that legalized a variety of video gambling machines and card games on Indian reservations.
The measure, approved by 63 percent of California voters last month, was put on hold while the court considers lawsuits that claim it is unconstitutional.
The suits by a group of homeowners and a labor union contend the initiative violates federal law on Indian gambling and a state constitutional ban on casinos like the ones operating in Nevada and New Jersey. The casino ban was approved by state voters in 1984 as part of the law that authorized a state lottery.
The homeowners got financial assistance from Nevada casinos, which also bankrolled the campaign against the initiative. Campaign spending totaled nearly $100 million, a record for a U.S. initiative; about two-thirds came from tribes supporting the measure.
At least 44 tribes have signed up to operate the expanded casinos.
Under the terms of the measure, the state would have been required to approve the first few of those plans by this Friday, and they would have taken effect 45 days later unless vetoed by the U.S. Interior secretary.
Jerome L. Levine, a lawyer who helped draft the proposition for the tribes, described the legal battle as one between Nevada interests and California voters.
Gov. Pete Wilson, however, said that he was pleased the court had blocked ``this deceptively written and promoted proposition'' that would transform California into ``a Nevada-by-the-sea, populated with dozens and dozens of new Las Vegas-style casinos.''