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Court clears path for 10,549 new slots in California

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October 6, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO - Up to 10,549 new slot licenses will be distributed by the California Gambling Control Commission to Indian casino statewide after a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request by Gov. Schwarzenegger to block an August ruling by a U.S. District judge to issue the additional licenses. The earlier ruling found the state had miscalculated the total number of slot licenses authorized by the 1999 Indian gaming compacts.

The California Gambling Control Commission issued 3,548 of the new licenses on Monday.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case in February. Until then the judges did not find a valid basis for delaying the immediate issuance of the slot licenses. They rejected the government's claim that the additional slot machines would cause irreparable problems such as increased traffic and crime.

A Schwarzenegger spokesman, Jeff Macedo, said, "We still think we should win that appeal."

The governor came into office in 2003 pledging to make Indian casinos "pay their fair share" and used the limited number of gambling licenses as a negotiating tool to get concessions from tribes. The court order to increase the total number of slot licenses is a setback to Schwarzenegger's negotiations.

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