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Gambling votes in California lamented by pro-family groups

FRESNO, Calif. (BP)–Pro-family groups in California, while celebrating a pro-marriage vote March 7, expressed dismay as voters approved a proposition that would allow Indian tribes to expand gambling on tribal land.

“It won big which means California lost big,” said Art Croney, executive director and lobbyist for the Committee on Moral Concerns. “People want to help the Indians but they have no idea what they’ve done. Basically with that vote they’ve turned California into a Las Vegas-style casino gambling state.”

Croney said passage of Proposition 1-A “trumped” another proposition that voters also approved. As a result, he said, Proposition 29, which affirmed previously established gambling compacts between California and a number of Native American tribes, becomes moot. But those tribes now stand to share in billions of dollars in gambling revenue expected to result from Prop. 1-A.

“It’s a short-term benefit for the Indians, but in the long term it’s another problem,” Croney said. He noted that Article I Section 7 paragraph B of the California constitution provides that “a citizen or class of citizens may not be granted privileges or immunities not granted on the same basis” to all other citizens. Croney predicted that it is just a matter of time before non-Indians figure out how to cash in on casino gambling in California.

“People are not aware of the harm that gambling causes. They’re going to become graphically aware of it in the next 10 years,” Croney said.

Barrett Duke, of the ERLC, also lamented the California vote.

“Peppering California with casinos will intensify the problems California already experiences from legalized gambling. Casinos will make billions of dollars and local businesses, individuals and families will suffer,” he said.

“I sympathize with the plight of the American Indian,” Duke added. “But gambling is not the answer to their problems. Those tribes who have succumbed to the gambling dollar are teaching their children that the way of easy money and preying on the weaknesses of others is an acceptable means toward personal advancement. … As they fill their treasuries, I fear they are emptying their souls and the souls of their children.”

A third gambling-related initiative, Proposition 17, which allows professional gambling organizations to run private raffles and lotteries in California, also won voter approval March 7. Activities such as raffles and casino nights have been legally used by legitimate charities to raise funds in California for decades. Now, Croney said, legitimate charities “are going to suffer and it’s an open door, an open invitation to phony charities and scams.”

“It will be 10 years before voters realize what a mistake they’ve made” by approving Proposition 17, Croney said. “We’re stuck with it — it’s a constitutional amendment. They’ll try to fix it through legislation but they won’t be able to.”

Todd Starnes contributed to this article.

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  • Mark Wyatt