Big Daddy

Ask Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,

What’s your read on the Indian gaming compacts? Shrewd financial move for the state, sell-out of labor, neither or both?

–Unite This

Dear Gamer,

As a fat guy, I’ve always been sympathetic to the idea the something not physically demanding could be considered a sport. And I’m not talking golf or debating. I mean an activity where I don’t have to get off my duff. It was with profound envy that I watched from the great beyond as competitive eating barged its way onto television.

Now it probably won’t surprise you that a fogeyish flatulence like myself doesn’t get the appeal of video games, but I do admire that small cadre of permanent pubescents who’ve become professional “athletes” while having body fat percentages that read like bench presses and vice versa. The most visible new sedentary superstars are probably those smug fellows on The World Series of Poker, never mind that they all dress like they just got back from Liberace’s estate sale.

But by far my favorite new “sport” is tribal gaming. Boy oh boy, but wasn’t last week’s match a humdinger. Jenny Oropeza vs. Laura Richardson in Tribes & Labor Spend ‘Em had a little bit of everything.

First you got two players facing their former teams, with one-time union darling Oropeza getting bug-eyed with casino dollar signs while Richardson, once a backup on the tribal sidelines, signs a fat free agent contract with labor.

When the flop turned up a gay card and a pair of race cards, the action was on. Richardson makes an opening gambit of union bucks, and other competitors’ cards start hitting the table. Oropeza takes the bait as the Morongo tribe pushes $457,000 across the table in front of her (imagine it in twenties–makes a nice image). But through the glass we see Richardson’s holding a gay card of her own–boom, full house and on to a lifetime job in the land of Northern charm and Southern efficiency.

Am I mixing my metaphors? Heck yes! No single set of metaphors could describe action this intense! It’s enough to make you wish they’d frozen Howard Cosell’s head in a jar and we could thaw him out for special occasions.

With the state struggling to get a steady revenue stream out of the lottery (which sort of seems like misplacing your ink when you’re got a money-press), this tribal gaming looks sure to keep on paying off with growing returns. Sure, there was some kerfuffle about the Governor’s estimated tax returns to the state being about as honest as his alleged height, but that’s just background noise.

No, I’m talking about the returns Oropeza enjoyed for her foray into federal politics–not to mention the not-quite-equal but distinctly opposite returns as labor has to bust the salary cap to compete. We don’t even need MOAs or MOUs to keep that cash pipeline flowing.

Al Davis has got nothing on the Morongos. Even when they lose, they lose in style. If they can drop half an M on a race for some far off body that so far has little effect on who gets a casino and who gets to print poverty postcards vying for one, imagine the monetary maelstrom that could erupt if, say, three years from now we get a couple of serious gubernatorial candidates with different ideas on how loose the government slots should be.

As for that creepy thing retirees do in front of those lever-action vending machines of misery … that’s a bit less exciting.


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