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Gaming compacts confound Capitol

As the clock winds down on the legislative session, confusion swirled on the
fate of a series of gaming compacts that together constitute the largest
expansion of gaming in the nation’s history, and one of the most significant
pieces to the Legislature’s end-of-the-year puzzle.

Legislators, lobbyists and staff struggled to keep up with the latest on the
gaming-compact negotiations as rumors swirled about the future of the Agua
Caliente compact and half-dozen other revised compacts.

Many Capitol watchers were surprised when the Agua Caliente tribe’s new
compact was voted down on the Assembly floor Monday. As the tribe’s
chairman, Richard Milanovich, and lobbyist Barry Brokaw were pulling members
off the floor, organized labor reps flexed their muscle, holding private
meetings of their own. But whether they would be able to hold that pose
through the end of the legislative session remained unclear as of press
time.

“The Democrats have to choose between their tribal friends and their union
masters,” said Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, author of the Agua Caliente
compact.

On Monday, many of the state’s most powerful labor leaders circled through
the Capitol and put the squeeze on Speaker Fabian N

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