Tribal gaming to be focus of upcoming UC Davis forum

Academics and experts from around the country will gather at UC Davis later this month to discuss the economic and social impacts of Indian gaming in the United States.

The day-long conference will be hosted by the Center for State and Local Taxation on October 26, part of the university’s Institute of Governmental Affairs.

Since Indian gaming began in California in 1998, more than 200 tribes have opened gambling facilities across the country. Nationwide, Indian gaming is now a $25 billion industry, more than double what it was just five years ago.
Speakers at the forum will include Steven Sheffrin, dean of the Center for State and Local Taxation, as well as gambling and economics experts from Arizona, Connecticut and Nevada.

“It’s been argued that these casinos are bringing economic development to the reservations and the surrounding communities,” says Terri Sexton, a professor of economics at Cal State Sacramento who will speak at the conference.

“We want to take a closer look at what those impacts are, both positive and
negative, that the expansion of gaming is having around the country.”

Sexton says she does not expect there to be a prolonged political discussion of the four new gaming compacts ratified by the Legislature this year, which may face voter approval in February. But she did say the compacts will likely come up in the broader context of how various states structure their Indian gaming deals, and where these new deals place California in that spectrum.

“I would say California falls somewhere in between,” says Sexton. “We’re moving toward more compensation for state and local governments. We’re a long way from, say, Minnesota, which stands out. There is no revenue sharing component associated with tribal casinos in that state.”

But Sexton says California still falls short of Connecticut, home of the largest Indian casino in the country, which gives 25 percent of its revenue to the state.

For more information on the conference, check out the center’s Web site

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