Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed one of the main figures in the fight against the new gaming compacts — which the governor himself supports — to become the press secretary of the California State Lottery.
Schwarzenegger's office sent out a list of new appointments Tuesday morning, including that of Al Lundeen, 50, of Granite Bay. Since 1995, Lundeen has been communications director for Woodward & McDowell, a "ballot measure and issue advocacy" firm. Since August, Lundeen has served as a spokesman for No on the Unfair Gambling Deals, the main group fighting to overturn recent compacts that allow four southern California gaming tribes to expand their operations. Lundeen said that he planned to start his new job within "a few weeks."
Backed by competing gaming interest, horse racing and anti-casino activists, the group managed to get the compacts on the February 5, 2008, ballot as Propositions 94, 95, 96 and 97. Their goal is to get voters to vote no and overturn the deals, which call for 17,000 new slots machines for between between four tribes: the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.
No on the Unfair Gambling Dealshas major backing from some competing gaming tribes, including the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the United Auburn Community. Many labor groups are also backing the anti-casino effort, including the California Labor Federation and the California Professional Firefighters.
Meanwhile, the state lottery has also been in the news. When Schwarzenegger unveiled his budget package in May, he included a proposal to privatize the lottery. At the time, he pointed to statistics showing that the state's annual per capita lottery sales were only $81, compared to a national average of $158. Leasing out the lottery could bring in an additional $1.5 billion a year, he said at the time-money he argued could be used to help fund expanded healthcare coverage in California.
Critics, mainly Democrats, claimed that California's low numbers were due to tribal casinos and other gaming opportunities that has saturated the market. Late last week, Schwarzenegger officially dropped the lottery privatization plan and endorsed a Democratic proposal to increase cigarette taxes to fund healthcare instead.
In June, the California State Lottery Commission announced a 2007-2010 business plan. It blamed the lotteries underperformance on a lack of connection with the public and legislative limits on the types of games the Lottery can offer. It called for the Lottery to improve long-term planning and offer more games with lower payouts but better odds. It also calls for more communication and marketing to the public, stating "the CSL needs to reintroduce itself to consumers."
Lundeen's new job pays $99,000 and does not require Senate confirmation. Though he is listed as a decline-to-state voter, Lundeen was a media consultant for California State Assembly Democratic Caucus from 1993 to 1995. Prior to that he was a radio reporter for several years.