Los Angeles Area Cities & Four-Time Olympian and Gold Medalist Publicly Oppose Eligible Tribal Gaming Initiative on Nov. Election Ballot

Region Poised to Lose $71.1M in Tax Revenue for Local Programs & Community Support if Measure Passes – Decimating Critical Services in Los Angeles Region

Commerce, Calif. (May 19, 2023) – Los Angeles elected officials and a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist today exposed the detrimental local impacts of the eligible tribal gaming initiative that, if passed, threatens the future of community programs throughout the Los Angeles region - including the Senior Citizen Brunch Program, which is a service provided where today’s press conference was held. 

Juan Garza, California Cities for Self-Reliance Joint Powers Authority; Brenda Villa, Four-Time Olympian and Gold Medalist in Water Polo; Oralia Rebollo, Mayor, City of Commerce; Emma Sharif, Mayor, City of Compton; Jesse Alvarado, Council Member, City of Hawaiian Gardens; Alejandra Cortez, Council Member, City of Bell Gardens; Marcel Rodarte, Executive Director, California Contract Cities Association; and Shavon Moore-Cage, an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Laborer called on Los Angeles voters to reject the measure in the November election – citing that the Los Angeles region stands to lose at least $71.1 million in direct general fund tax revenue if the eligible tribal gaming initiative becomes law. According to the local elected officials and community leaders, the measure’s passage would significantly limit local government’s ability to fund public health, homelessness services, senior programs, after-school programs, and a myriad of vital public services. 

The initiative proposes to amend the State Constitution to guarantee tribal casinos a near-monopoly on all gaming in California – adding exclusivity over roulette, craps and sports wagering to their current monopoly on slot machines — while weaponizing the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) so it can be used against tribal casino operators’ legally-operating competition. Specifically, this change in the State Constitution allows tribal casinos to hire private trial lawyers and replace the role of the Attorney General to sue their non-tribal competitors. As a result, the measure puts more than 32,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in wages and $5.5 billion in total economic impact at risk. Cities rely on this revenue for resident services such as public safety, housing and homeless programs. 

“Cities across California oppose the qualified tribal gaming initiative because it is the only sports wagering measure that will cause direct harm to our ability to fund the services and opportunities our residents rely on – from parks and recreation to police and fire. California cities that depend on the revenues generated through legal gaming at cardrooms would be devastated by the impact cardroom closures would have on municipal budgets and the vital services they fund.” 

-Oralia Rebollo, Mayor for the City of Commerce 

This initiative will be a significant blow to the City of Hawaiian Gardens. The Gardens Casino, which has operated in the City of Hawaiian Gardens for the past 22 years, is a critical partner to our entire community – providing more than 68% of our city’ total general fund revenues, which have played a vital role in our ability to fight crime and roll back major gang issues. If the eligible tribal gaming initiative were to become law, it would devastate our community.”

-Jesse Alvarado, Council Member for the City of Hawaiian Gardens 

“Los Angeles County would stand to lose more than 9,100 good paying jobs and $370 million in wages each year paid to workers who reside in our communities. Cardrooms have provided a livelihood for thousands of Californians who would otherwise struggle to find gainful employment. This measure will deprive all of those hardworking community members the ability to take care of their families and sustain economic stability and growth for our city.”

- Emma Sharif, Mayor for the City of Compton 

“Our city relies significantly on the Bicycle Hotel and Casino as they contribute 46% of the City’s General Fund revenues or over $15 million annually. This revenue helps us fund our police department, parks and community services, and public works. As you can imagine, when the cardroom was closed for a good portion of 2020, we lost significant revenues that resulted in layoffs of critical personnel and elimination of essential services our residents rely on for daily living. There are better ways for the state to legalize sports betting without directly harming our residents and cities that rely on the jobs, public safety, and our quality of life through parks, community services and city development and maintenance.”

- Alejandra Cortez, Council Member for the City of Bell Gardens

“As a child, I was able to use the aquatic facilities in Commerce to train and become the athlete I am today. This was made possible by the City of Commerce – which funded our fantastic Aquatic Center that now bears my name. Much like that facility, our City’s wonderful programs and resident services are at risk if the tribal gaming measure that’s on the ballot passes in November. I would hate to see the future of our Commerce youth, along with the resources our senior citizens need to survive and thrive, taken away due to a harmful ballot measure that benefits a select few.”

- Brenda Villa, Four-Time Olympian and Gold Medalist in Water Polo

“The California Contract Cities Association overwhelmingly voted to oppose the qualified tribal gaming initiative as it will not benefit our residents or communities. The proposed initiative also exploits the Private Attorneys General Act, opening the floodgates for frivolous lawsuits that will harm city revenues that fund vital city services such as roads, schools, homelessness services and fire protection.”

- Marcel Rodarte, Executive Director, California Contract Cities Association