December 7, 2008
SAN DIEGO - In a surprise move, the Sycuan band of El Cajon declined the 2006 gaming compact that would have expanded their 2,000 slot machines to 5,000 and given the tribe an option for a second casino on off-reservation land that includes the former Singing Hills Country Club.
The Sycuan spend years and $6 million to gain the new agreement with the state. It was signed more than two years ago by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sycuan Chairman Daniel Tucker, but it was never ratified by the tribe's 78 adult members.
Chairman Tucker sent a letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger last week that said "It is with sincere regret that Sycuan is unable to take advantage of the August, 2006 amended compact between our tribe and the state. (The current economic climate) makes proceeding under the amended compact financially imprudent at this time and for the forseeable future."
He added, "We are doing everything we can to avoid having to lay off our valued employees and are continuing to restructure operations to mitigate the impacts of an extremely challenging economic environment. In these circumstances, even a modest expansion would be impossible."
Camille Anderson, a spokeswoman for the governor, said "We're disappointed but understand the tribe's situation."
Under the terms of the rejected compact, Sycuan would pay roughly 10 percent more on its existing slots or $20 million a year. It would also pay up to 15 percent on the additional 3,000 slots. Over the years of the deal (through 2030), the state estimated it would receive $1.6 billion from Sycuan.
Last February state voters approved Sycuan's compact along with compacts for three other tribes. A few months later, the Schwarzenegger administration announced that the state would not be receiving $30 million expected from Sycuan because the tribe had not ratified its compact. A deadline of January 1st was given to the tribe. Sycuan members voted against it last week. They still retain the right to build a second casino under the existing compact, but they do not have the explicit approval from the state for the newly acquired land.
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