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Los Angeles Indian Casino Hopes Killed

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February 8, 2008

LONG BEACH, CA - State Sen. Jenny Oropeza abruptly dropped her bill to create a reservation for the Gabrielino-Tongva tribe in Los Angeles County after learning the tribe's long-term plan to build a casino.

Last December Sen. Oropeza introduced her bill with specific language to exclude Indian gaming. However, she recently learned of a January 11th letter distributed to tribal members by their council that describes a step-by-step strategy for building a casino if the reservation is created. The letter explicitly state "At a later date, after the reservation is established, we will return to seek a separate approval for gaming rights."

On Monday Oropeza said she felt misled by the tribe's leadership and decided to drop the bill. She said "Clearly we were on different pages. I don't like dealing with folks who don't deal straight-up. Right now I think people are weary of the tribal gaming issue. I'm not somebody who beats my head against a wall."

Jonathan Stein, the CEO of the tribe, expressed his regret. "Jenny has her heart in the right place," he said. "It could be she's under a lot of pressure from other tribes in Southern California." He added "In our mind, we would get a reservation and do non-gaming business. But we're hoping in 10 years to maybe get our own casino. A 10-year horizon is pretty long." He felt his group had be forthright about their intentions to someday build a casino in Los Angeles County.

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