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A New Era Emerging in Tribal/Labor Relations

Dave Palermo is an award-winning metropolitan newspaper reporter. He has written about American Indian governments for more than 20 years, working as an advocate for several tribes and tribal associations. He also has co-authored books on gambling and gambling law. He can be reached at dgpalermo1@gmail.com.

(Blog) Dave Palermo: A New Era Emerging in Tribal/Labor Relations

The united stand California’s American Indians took against organized labor intrusion into tribal governance 15 years ago is rapidly dissipating as 1999 tribal-state casino regulatory agreements, or compacts, come up for renewal.

And only a few tribes are expressing concern that the bitter tribal-labor feud surrounding the birth of compacted casino gambling in California may gradually be coming to an end as more union friendly tribal-state compacts come up for ratification by the state Legislature.

An emerging spirit of cooperation is written in conciliatory labor provisions of compacts Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated in the last few weeks with Jackson Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

And the trend will likely continue as negotiations progress with more than 40 other tribes holding compacts signed in 1999 with the landmark passage of Proposition 1A – agreements due to expire in 2020.

Indigenous leaders are aware that when weighing sovereignty against organized labor – particularly the UNITE HERE hotel union – tribes don’t stand much of a chance in Sacramento, particularly when the union can deal with them individually and not as a group, as was the case in 1999.

“If you want to ensure yourself an easier time with votes in the Legislature, you’ve got a big leg up if you have UNITE HERE getting up and testifying that they are in support of what you’re trying to do,” a tribal lobbyist said last week.

UNITE HERE is the nation’s largest casino industry union with some 90,000 members, most of them in Las Vegas. Only 7,000 UNITE HERE workers are employed in a handful of the 60 California tribal casinos where the union has collective bargaining agreements. But those figures will likely increase as individual tribes appear in the state Capitol seeking extended and amended tribal-state compacts.

The once testy relationship between California tribes and UNITE HERE may, in fact, evolve into a political alliance similar to the partnership the labor organization forged 30 years ago with the Nevada casino industry.

It would be quite a transformation, considering the hotel union once filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of compacted gambling on Indian lands.

“Things change,” a tribal lawyer said of the tribal-UNITE HERE relationship.

LABOR ORDINANCES DATE TO ‘99

In reaching agreement on tribal-state compacts with former Gov. Gray Davis in 1999, 58 tribes also enacted tribal labor relations ordinances (TLRO) aimed at appeasing unions seeking to organized casino workers.

The fact tribes needed to enact the TLROs is testament to the strength of organized labor in California. In none of the other 27 states with Indian casinos are regulatory compacts conditioned on TLROs.

“California is unique because union organizing was integrated into the tribal-state gaming compacts,” says Richard Guest, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund.

“If you want to have a gaming compact, the state of California is saying – because of pressure from organized labor – you as a tribe need to have labor provisions enacted which allow for union organizing.”

UNITE HERE, however, was not pleased with the wording of the ‘99 TLROs, which limit strikes, ban picketing on tribal lands and, most important, require secret ballot elections rather than the union-preferred method of tribal neutrality and card checks in organizing workers.

But Tribes stood united on the TLRO language, which greatly limited the ability of UNITE HERE to organize some 50,000 tribal casino workers.

Labor relations for several tribes have since been significantly changed over the past decade as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Brown negotiated new and amended tribal-state compacts.

Some Schwarzenegger agreements enabling 1999 tribes to exceed a 2,000 threshold on slot machines gave UNITE HERE exclusivity in organizing workers.

TLROs under Brown eliminated the term “required” in secret ballot election provisions and allowed for picketing on tribal lands.

TLROs with Chumash and Sycuan reached in the last several weeks include tribal neutrality and “Consent Election Agreement Procedures” allowing mail-in ballots, which critics contend is tantamount to card checks. Jackson Rancheria also agreed to tribal neutrality.

Some ’99 tribes still early in negotiations contend the Brown compacts infringe on tribal sovereignty. Others resent UNITE HERE state director Jack Gribbon’s involvement in the negotiations.

“I find it atrocious, these changes,” said a tribal representative who, along with five other tribal officials requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of compact talks.

“The very idea that a state can force a tribal government to be quiet in a collective bargaining election is nuts,” the tribal source said. “Card checks have always been nuts. Not even the NLRA [National Labor Relations Act] allow for neutrality and card checks.

“Yet here’s Jack Gribbon using his political muscle, playing the role of the state at the negotiations table and forcing these changes.”

Members of a coalition of 33 tribal signatories to the ’99 compacts and TLROs are wary that Brown and UNITE HERE will pressure them to accept similar language when they sit down to negotiate new agreements.

“They’re going to tell us there is no cookie-cutter compact, there is no template,” a tribal representative said. “But we all know that’s horse (bleep).

“Brown and HERE are basically saying any tribe that wants to get a compact through the Legislature needs to have Chumash-type labor language.”

Brown negotiator Joginder Dhillon and Gribbon declined interview requests.

TALKS HEATING UP

Brown officials contend the governor has thus far tailored 13 compacts to meet the needs of individual tribes while mandating that some casino funds be directed to local counties and municipalities and non-gambling tribes.

Dhillon has generally been respectful of tribal sovereignty, according to tribal leaders who sat across the table from the governor’s aide. Compacts have been crafted to help tribes in financial straits such as Shingle Springs and Coyote Valley.

“I think the governor has a great deal of respect for the tribes within the state,” Dhillon told KQED Public Media. “And I think that’s created the kind of relationship that allows us to work together, to further the tribes’ interests as well as the people of California.”

It’s difficult for ’99 coalition tribes to predict where the administration will go next in negotiations, particularly with regard to the TLROs.

“What has struck me about these compacts is they’re all different,” a tribal official said.

Most of those with the ’99 coalition believe the governor will not seek card check agreements in revised TLROs, but nonetheless will press for neutrality, mail-in ballots and other methods to make it easier for unions to organize workers.

“I don’t see the governor trying to foist neutrality and card checks upon tribes,” says a tribal lobbyist familiar with negotiations. “He’ll stop short of that.

“I think you’ll see labor ordinances somewhat similar to what was agreed to in ’99. That’s where I think things are going.”

Some suspect UNITE HERE is not that concerned about the coalition, which includes several small tribal casinos with few employees. The threshold of union organizing in the TLROs is 250 workers.

A COMPELLING ARGUMENT FOR LABOR PEACE

Chumash Chairman Vincent Armenta, a proponent of organized labor, believes the newly negotiated TLRO is a more equitable arrangement for the 2,000-plus workers at the tribal casino.

“Our strategy all along was to make sure there was a fair opportunity that left the decision up to the employees whether or not they wanted to organize,” Armenta said. “I think the amended TLRO reflected that, very clearly.”

Rather than a union intrusion on tribal sovereignty, Armenta believes the tribe’s choice to amend its TRLO is, instead, an exercise of its self-governance.

Armenta informed other tribal leaders of his impending decision to amend the TLRO. He told them he did not believe it should serve as a template for future negotiations.

“I reached out to some tribes early on, to let them know what we are considering,” Armenta said. “I wanted to hear their concerns.

“The good thing I’ve gotten back from other tribes is they feel it’s important that each sovereign nation negotiate what is best for their tribe. I heard that, loud and clear, from many tribes. That’s certainly the stance that we take.

“The other feedback I got – not just in regards to the TLRO – is that all tribes should have the ability to negotiate their own compact,” Armenta said. “It should not be one compact fits all.”

When the Chumash compact and TLRO went before the Senate Government Organization Committee Sept. 1 legislators and others appeared ready to embrace a new era of tribal-labor relations.

“I think that it’s inspiring, because it hasn’t always been the case that labor and the tribes have worked together,” committee Vice Chair Tom Barryhill said. “And obviously with the support that’s here today that’s changed.

“We’ve seen that in a couple different compacts that we’ve moved forward this year.”

“We think the compact really does provide a model,” said Mitch Seaman, legislative advocate for the California Labor Federation, “and it’s one we’d like to see met or exceeded in all future compacts where it does protect the tribe’s’ right to free expression but it also really does protect the workers’ rights to organize.”

Representatives of five tribes spoke at the committee hearing in support of the Chumash agreement, although a spokesman for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians stressed that it not be used as a precedent for future compacts.

A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

A once antagonistic relationship between the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union (HERE), predecessor to UNITE HERE, and Las Vegas casino companies improved dramatically in the 1980s under former union boss, the late Edward T. Hanley.

Hanley, who federal officials accused of being backed by Chicago mobsters, was nevertheless a progressive labor leader who consolidated union locals and health and pension funds and, most important, realized the effectiveness of a strong political presence on Capitol Hill.

Hanley parlayed a Chicago boyfriend friendship with the late Dan Rostenkowski, onetime head of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, to go to bat for the Nevada gambling industry on taxation and other issues.

The resultant HERE/casino industry alliance continued under Hanley’s successor, John Wilhelm, and longtime lobbyist Robert Juliano, who retired only last year. The union under Wilhelm’s leadership was credited with embracing immigrant labor, promoting diversity in union leadership and improving the working conditions for industry employees, largely non-casino hotel workers.

HERE’s political clout was largely responsibility for the union’s ability to secure and maintain collective bargaining agreements with Nevada gambling companies. The strategy has also proven effective in California as UNITE HERE gradually accumulates labor agreements with tribal casinos.

Tribal leaders mark time to a heated, 1999 meeting over TLRO language between UNITE HERE’s Gribbon and former California Senate Pro Tem John Burton that preceded voter approval of Proposition 1A and ratification of the landmark tribal-state compacts.

“Burton basically told Jack Gribbon to go (bleep) himself,” said a tribal representative who heard the loud discussion from behind a closed door. “We held our guns. We made sure it [collective bargaining] was a tribal process.”

But while UNITE HERE has largely failed in organizing tribal casinos with ’99 TLROs, it has succeeded in using its political leverage to contract with newly recognized Indian tribes and those seeking legislative approval of amended compacts.

The list of union properties include Yocha Dehe Band of Wintun Indians, United Auburn Indian Community, Pala Band of Luiseño Indians, Pauma Band of Mission Indians, Lytton Band of Pomo Indians and Graton Rancheria.

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi, which was closed by federal and state officials last year in a tribal dispute, will open with a UNITE HERE compact.

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation will appear before the Assembly and Senate Government Organization Committees later this month seeking approval of its new compact and TLRO.

“The new compact represents a respectful, government to government negotiation that mutually benefits the state, tribe, and local community,” Sycuan Chairman Cody Martinez said.

As was the case with hearings on previous compacts, UNITE HERE’s Jack Gribbon will join Dhillon and tribal officials at the committee witness table.

Sycuan plans to increase its slot machine inventory to 2,500 units, installing 500 devices at the tribe’s 100-room Sycuan Resort.

With labor sitting by its side, the tribe will likely get it done.

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12/9/2015

article Obama Caught Between Tribes, Unions On NLRB Bill [sub req]
(Washington D.C.) -- A proposed bill that would exempt casinos and other tribe-owned businesses from National Labor Relations Board jurisdiction puts the White House in...

12/6/2015

article PORTER: Unions See Indian Casinos and Think: Jackpot
(New York) -- Despite the recent success that gaming has brought to some Indian tribes, most of Indian country remains shockingly poor. This condition reflects the...

12/4/2015

article Casino Has To Let Union Hand Out Leaflets in Guest Areas [sub req]
(California) -- A Native American-run casino in California cannot bar employees from handing out union leaflets near the front entrance, the National Labor Relations...

12/2/2015

article Union slams Democrat for vote on Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Washington D.C.) -- Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Oregon) has turned his back on unions, labor leaders said after the passage of H.R.511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, in...

12/1/2015

article Oregon Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader turning hostile to union rights
(Oregon) -- Kurt SchraderOregon’s most conservative Democrat, U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader, is taking increasingly antagonistic stances toward the union movement.

11/27/2015

article Native American Casinos Seek Labor Law Exemption
(Washington D.C.) -- A battle is brewing in Congress over legislation that would exempt Native American casinos from a federal labor law allowing workers to unionize....
article UAW, tribes on opposite sides of U.S. labor bill
(Washington D.C.) -- A bill that would exempt Indian tribes from federal labor law likely would have little impact on southeastern Connecticut’s reservations,...

11/23/2015

article STEELE: Obama should study the Constitution and the treaties
(South Dakota) -- Indian nations and tribes were pleased with the respect for Indian sovereignty shown by the House of Representatives with the bipartisan passage on Nov...

11/22/2015

article Tribal labor bill OK'd [2nd Item]
(Oklahoma) -- A bill to exempt workers at Indian casinos and other businesses from federal labor relations laws opened a deep partisan divide in the House last week,...

11/21/2015

article Tribal governments achieve parity with Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Michigan) -- Aaron Payment, chairperson of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, said Friday, “In respect of our history, our ancestors, our treaties,...

11/18/2015

article Lawmakers defy White House on Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Washington D.C.) -- The Republican-controlled House easily approved a bill to exempt tribes from federal labor law on Tuesday despite objections from Democrats and the...
article VIDEO: Russell, Cole Support Federal Tribal Sovereignty Labor Legislation
(Washington D.C.) -- On Tuesday the U.S. House passed a bill that exempts businesses on tribal lands from the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board....

11/17/2015

article Bill to shield tribal casinos from labor board clears the U.S. House
(Washington D.C.) -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday aimed at blocking the National Labor Relations Board’s jurisdiction over...
article Pearce: “Yes” To Native American Sovereignty, Jobs
(Washington D.C.) -- Commentary: U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce issued this statement following his vote to approve the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015, H.R. 511. “...
article White House slams Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act ahead of vote
(Washington D.C.) -- The Obama administration is opposing a bill that would exempt tribes and their enterprises from federal labor law. H.R.511, the Tribal Labor...

11/13/2015

article OP/ED: Support the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Washington D.C.) -- When it comes to American Indian affairs, bi-partisanship – even non-partisanship – is commonplace. For decades, we have benefitted from...

9/24/2015

article Union, Navajo Nation finalize collective bargaining agreement
(Arizona) -- The United Mine Workers of America and the Navajo Nation have finalized a collective bargaining agreement for the UMWA to represent approximately 1,300...

9/23/2015

article Union, Navajo Nation finalize collective bargaining agreement
(New Mexico) -- The United Mine Workers of America and the Navajo Nation have finalized a collective bargaining agreement for the UMWA to represent approximately 1,300...

9/22/2015

article En Banc Update: NLRB Tribal Dispute [sub req]
(Michigan) -- We have been following a pair of Sixth Circuit cases concerning the NLRB’s jurisdiction over tribal casinos. In the first case, NLRB v. Little River...

9/21/2015

article Mich. Tribe Loses Bid For 6th Circ. To Rehear NLRB Ruling [sub req]
(Michigan) -- The Sixth Circuit on Friday declined a Michigan tribe’s request for an en banc rehearing of a decision finding the National Labor Relations Board has...
article Brantford casino workers locked out
(Ontario) -- Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne will not intervene in a labour dispute between locked-out Brantford casino workers and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp....

9/8/2015

blog Dave Palermo: A New Era Emerging in Tribal/Labor Relations
(California) -- The united stand California’s American Indians took against organized labor intrusion into tribal governance 15 years ago is rapidly dissipating as...

9/4/2015

article Union attacks McCollum over tribal labor bill
(Minnesota) -- A dispute pitting tribal interests against labor unions has Rep. Betty McCollum taking fire from organized labor — a traditional supporter of the...

9/2/2015

article NCAI Asks 6th Circ. To Revisit NLRB Role At Tribal Casinos
(Washington D.C.) -- The National Congress of American Indians on Friday sought to file an amicus brief with the Sixth Circuit calling for a rehearing en banc of a...

7/31/2015

article NLRB tips: NLRB assault on precedent continues undiminished
(Washington D.C.) -- A Sixth Circuit Court panel has affirmed a decision of the Board extending its jurisdiction to Indian tribal casinos, despite the tribes’...

7/27/2015

article Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act moves forward after markup session
(Washington D.C.) -- H.R.511 gains momentum as members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce attend the July 22, 2015 markup session which was packed...

7/23/2015

article House committee backs Indian tribes over labor board
(Washington) -- The House Education and the Workforce Committee marked up legislation Wednesday that would strip the federal government of jurisdiction of labor issues...
article The Intersection Of Federal Labor Law, Tribal Gaming And A Deep Division Within Two Sixth Circuit Three-Judge Panels
(Washington D.C.) -- Two separate three-judge panels of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit have rendered labor law decisions concerning Indian...

7/22/2015

article House Dems Take Aim At NLRB Tribal Exemption Bill [sub req]
(Washington D.C.) -- House Democrats on Wednesday hit out at a “misguided” bill to prevent the National Labor Relations Board from exerting jurisdiction over...
article Lawmakers show support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Washington D.C.) -- The National Indian Gaming Association hosted a slew of lawmakers on Tuesday as the organization opened its legislative summit on Capitol Hill....

7/20/2015

article House committee markup for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Washington D.C.) -- The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will hold a markup this Wednesday on H.R.511, the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act.

7/13/2015

article Culinary Union targets bank’s ownership stake in Station Casinos
(Las Vegas) -- The Culinary Union’s latest attempt to exert pressure on Station Casinos seeks to bring a complex international finance scandal before state gaming...

7/11/2015

article Money, Sex and Las Vegas Pool Parties
(Las Vegas) -- IMAGINE this: Before a job interview, you wait five hours in a room with your competition, but instead of business attire, you’re in bikinis and...

7/8/2015

article The Sixth Circuit Extends the NLRA's Reach to Tribal-Owned Casinos
(Michigan) -- The extent of the National Labor Relations Act's application to tribal-owned and operated enterprises on reservations is an open question in many...

7/3/2015

article NLRB-tribe dispute heading for en banc review?
(USA) -- We recently reported on a decision governing the NLRB’s jurisdiction over tribal casinos, NLRB v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Government.
article Sixth Circuit Holds National Labor Relations Act Applicable to Indian Tribe's Casino
(USA) -- Weighing in on a hotly contested issue, a panel of the Sixth Circuit has found that federal labor law applies to Indian tribes’ casinos, notwithstanding...

7/2/2015

article Bizarre Sixth Circuit Decision Further Confuses NLRB's Jurisdiction Over Tribal Enterprises
(Michigan) -- In its very odd July 1 decision in Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort v. National Labor Relations Board, all three judges on the three-judge panel concluded...
article Judges: Casino must comply with labor laws
(Michigan) -- Federal appeals judges ruled on Wednesday that the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort must comply with orders from the National Labor Relations Board.
article Showdown Looms In 6th Circ. Over NLRB's Tribal Authority
(New York) -- A recent Sixth Circuit opinion enforcing a National Labor Relations Board decision that struck down anti-union rules at a Michigan tribal casino laid bare...

7/1/2015

article Court reluctantly backs NLRB in Saginaw Chippewa Tribe dispute
(Michigan) -- The National Labor Relations Board can assert jurisdiction at a casino owned by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe of Michigan, a divided 6th Circuit Court of...
article US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Says Tribal Casinos Must Heed Labor Laws
(Michigan) -- The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled for a second time that casinos in Michigan operated by Indian tribes must obey orders from the National...

6/30/2015

article Jurisdiction over suits against tribal entities or employers
(Washington D.C.) -- Federal courts must often grapple with the question of jurisdiction over claims brought by a plaintiff against a tribal entity or tribe pursuant to...

6/29/2015

article Rep. McCollum vows support for Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act
(Minnesota) -- A key Democrat is supporting the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act, a bill that shields tribal casinos from federal labor law. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota...

6/22/2015

article Appropriations bill blocks federal labor law at tribal businesses
(Washington D.C.) -- Fueled by Republican interest on Capitol Hill, efforts to shield tribal casinos from federal labor law are taking another step forward this week. An...
press release Champion of Indian Country Attacked for Defending Tribal Sovereignty
(Washington D.C.) -- Dear Tribal Leader: Today the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) and National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) jointly reach out to...

6/21/2015

article Editorial: Casino workers' union protest is a bad gamble
(Atlantic City) -- You really have to hand it to the casino workers' union, which was able to bring more than 1,000 people — many from out of state — to...

6/19/2015

article PATTERSON: Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act restores our rights
(Washington D.C.) -- The United South and Eastern Tribes support the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act of 2015 (H.R.511 | S.248) as a matter of parity between sovereign...

6/17/2015

article Debate on Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act moves to House panel
(Washington D.C.) -- Debate on the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act moved to the House on Tuesday, less than a week after a Senate committee took action on a bill that's...

6/29/2011

article New Congressional Anti-Tribal Union Advocate Emerges
(Washington D.C.) -- In the ongoing battle from many tribes against unionization on their sovereign lands, tribal leaders have found a new friend in Rep. Kristi Noem, R-...

6/28/2011

article Casino developers sign deals with Mass. unions / Mohegan Sun hopes to build resort in Palmer
(Massachusetts) -- Would-be developers of proposed western Massachusetts casinos say they would use union labor to build their projects if and when the Bay State...

6/24/2011

article Noem bill would keep unions out of tribal affairs
(Washington D.C.) -- Rep. Kristi Noem has introduced a bill to try to keep “big labor” from “meddling” in tribal affairs. Under the measure, the...
article Noem seeks to restrict NLRB jurisdiction, Big Labor from tribal businesses
(Washington D.C.) -- On Thursday, Congresswoman Krisit Noem, R-S.D., introduced legislation to specify that the National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction...
article Mohegan Sun Has Union Agreements For Possible Mass. Casino Resort
(Massachusetts) -- Mohegan Sun officials said Friday that they will use union laborers if the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority builds a large hotel-and-casino resort in...

6/23/2011

article Noem bill targets ruling on tribal sovereignty
(Washington D.C.) -- Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced a bill Thursday in the U.S. House to overturn a federal appeals court decision that gives the National Labor...
article Noem bill would ban national labor board from tribal businesses
(Washington D.C.) -- U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., introduced legislation Thursday to clarify that the National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction over...

Other Blog Posts by This Author

7/10/2017

Dave Palermo: Tribal Anger Grows Over Card Room Games
(California) -- American Indian tribes operating casinos are demanding that California gambling regulators limit contractual agreements between card rooms and firms...

7/4/2017

Dave Palermo: DOJ Suspends Card Room Rotation Rule
(California) -- California gambling regulators are at least temporarily suspending a controversial card room rule that the player-dealer position in high stakes versions...

6/26/2017

Dave Palermo: Gathering Tribes to Discuss Dispute with Card Rooms, Regulators
(California) -- The questionable legality of banked games operated by California card rooms and the apparent inability of state regulators to monitor and police the...

8/17/2016

Dave Palermo: Lytle’s Letter Will Linger Over a Troubled Gambling Regulatory System
(California) -- Card room consulting and ownership licenses held by California’s onetime chief gambling enforcement officer were revoked in a stipulated agreement...

7/5/2016

Dave Palermo: Tribes Angry at New Card Club Rules
(California) -- New rules for banked table games at California card rooms will not prevent what American Indian tribes contend are illegal games that violate their...

5/14/2016

Dave Palermo: Lytle Admits to Wrongdoing, Relinquishes Card Room Licenses
(California) -- California’s former gambling enforcement chief has agreed to revocation of his licenses as a card room owner and consultant following his admission...

4/24/2016

Dave Palermo: California Tribes Working with Interior to Recover Native Lands
(USA) -- California’s American Indian tribes are reacquiring and placing in federal trust ancestral lands lost since European settlement, a trend crucial to...

1/13/2016

Dave Palermo: Tribes Looking for Unity on DFS, I-Poker
(California) -- Momentum to get a Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) bill out of the California Legislature is bullying efforts to legalize Internet poker, much to the dismay of...

9/8/2015

Dave Palermo: A New Era Emerging in Tribal/Labor Relations
(California) -- The united stand California’s American Indians took against organized labor intrusion into tribal governance 15 years ago is rapidly dissipating as...

7/27/2015

Dave Palermo: GOP Using GAO Audit to Criticize Tribal Casino Regulations
(Washington D.C.) -- Republican senators are using a General Accountability Office audit of the National Indian Gaming Commission to booster their belief the American...

6/29/2015

Dave Palermo: Tribes Cite ‘Illegal’ Card Room Games in Questioning State Regulatory Resources
(California) -- The inability of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prevent what he called “illegal” activity in California card rooms indicate the agency...

5/30/2015

Dave Palermo: California Needs ‘Hard Look’ at Gambling Regulations, Lopes Says
(California) -- California’s top gambling industry regulator, in announcing his retirement Thursday, said the state should “take a hard look” at its...

3/4/2015

Dave Palermo: Lopes, Littleton Recuse Themselves from Lytle Licensing Case
(California) -- The California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC) chairman has recused himself from deliberating the licensing of former industry enforcement director...

3/1/2015

Dave Palermo: I-Poker Prospects Looks Dim Despite Gray/Hall Alliance
(California) -- Despite optimism generated by companion Senate/Assembly bills seeking Internet poker in California, it remains unlikely legislation will make it out of...

2/15/2015

Dave Palermo: Tribal Moves on Tracks, ‘Bad Actors’ Does Not Bode Well for Online Poker
(California) -- The decision last week by three California tribes to embrace licensing racing associations and softening “bad actor” language in proposed...

2/13/2015

Dave Palermo: Three More Tribes Embrace Tracks on Internet Poker
(California) -- Three politically powerful California tribes and 24 card rooms are recommending to state Assembly sponsors of Internet poker bills that “bad actor...

2/8/2015

Dave Palermo: Tribes Divided into Three Groups on Internet Poker in California
(California) -- What was described last year as a coalition of a dozen American Indian tribes united on legislative language to enact an Internet poker bill in...

1/27/2015

Dave Palermo: ‘Let’s Revisit Bifurcated Regulatory System,’ Gatto says
(California) -- The effectiveness of California’s politically bifurcated gambling regulatory system and its enforcement arm under the state Attorney General should...

1/22/2015

Dave Palermo: New California Draft Poker Bill Includes Race Tracks
(California) -- A second draft bill to legalize Internet poker in California that would include the pari-mutuel racing industry along with American Indian tribes and...

1/20/2015

Dave Palermo: Potential Conflict In AG’s Lytle Licensing Investigation
(California) -- California gambling regulatory officials who will rule on the licensing of a former casino enforcement chief accused of jeopardizing a $119 million card...

1/15/2015

Dave Palermo: Lytle Corruption Probe May Hurt I-Poker Effort
(California) -- An investigation into alleged corruption in the California gambling enforcement agency may hurt attempts to get legislative approval of online poker,...

10/6/2014

Dave Palermo: GAO Casino Audit Concerns Tribal Regulators
(Washington D.C.) -- A federal audit of American Indian casinos is generating concern among tribal officials who fear the report will suggest a need for broader...

3/2/2014

Dave Palermo: Online Gambling Imminent, But Concerns Remain
(California) -- With the Internet poker debate moving to the Assembly side of the California Legislature, American Indian leaders and lobbyists are expressing renewed...

2/23/2014

Dave Palermo: Progress on Land/Trust in California, But There’s a Ways to Go
(California) -- American Indian tribes are being told California Gov. Jerry Brown will monitor what has been a series of letters from Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris...

9/15/2013

Dave Palermo: NIGC opinion crucial to Bay Mills case
(Washington D.C.) -- A 2010 opinion by the federal Indian gambling regulatory agency that it has no jurisdiction over a tiny, Vanderbilt, Mich., casino could lead to a...

8/27/2013

Dave Palermo: Lytton Band of Pomo Indians Leave The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA)
(California) -- The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, operators of San Pablo Lytton Casino, a non-compacted, Class II casino near San Francisco, is no longer a member of the...

8/25/2013

Dave Palermo: Tribes close, yet so far on Internet consensus
(California) -- Amended Internet poker legislation sponsored by California Senator Lou Correa and backed by a coalition of American Indian tribes under the leadership of...

8/11/2013

Dave Palermo: Tribes angry at California AG’s land/trust letters to Interior
(California) -- American Indians are outraged at the California Attorney General’s stepped-up opposition to tribal efforts to place land in trust for casinos, fire...

7/29/2013

Dave Palermo: Interior moves to fix a ‘broken’ federal recognition system
(Washington D.C.) -- A “discussion draft” of new rules intended to fix a broken system of federal recognition of American Indian tribes is the topic of a...

4/15/2013

Dave Palermo: Will the Internet be the ‘new Cabazon?’
(USA) --   Neil Cornelius, GM for the Osage casinos in Oklahoma, was walking to a gambling seminar in Las Vegas recently when a trade industry reporter asked him...

4/1/2013

Dave Palermo: Myriad problems with Carcieri decision
(Washington D.C.) -- The 2009 U.S. Supreme Court ruling limiting the Department of Interior’s ability to place land in trust for American Indians not “under...

3/25/2013

Dave Palermo: Tribal recognition change is in the winds
(Washington D.C.) -- Draft regulations aimed at reforming the federal administrative process for recognizing American Indian tribes will be available for review by...

3/18/2013

Dave Palermo: Fixing a broken system of tribal recognition
(Washington D.C.) -- Nor Rel Muk WintuIndians indigenous to the Klamath Mountains in Northern California have a lot in common with the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape people,...

3/11/2013

Dave Palermo: Gambling and Tribal Recognition Policy
(Washington D.C.) -- Considering that gambling has pretty much hijacked every aspect of federal American Indian policy, it comes as no surprise it would have a major...

3/4/2013

Dave Palermo: Tribes have cleaned up a “sin” industry
(Nevada) -- One of the last of more than 20 years of conversations I had with the late University of Nevada gambling scholar Bill Eadington had to do with the fact...

1/4/2013

Dave Palermo: Tribes, IRS Making Progress on Tax Issues
(Washington D.C.) -- It was during a September hearing of the House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs that Rep. Don Young, D-Alaska, grew a bit impatient...

11/5/2012

Dave Palermo: Self-governance guides BIA appointee Kevin Washburn
(Washington D.C.) -- Kevin Washburn is the son of Shirley Stark, an Oklahoma Chickasaw woman and tribal elder, a single parent and retired public health professional who...

9/30/2012

Dave Palermo: A tribal perspective on problem gambling
(USA) -- Clinicians will tell you that problem and pathological gamblers are largely co-morbid, meaning they have compulsive behavioral problems beyond an inability to...

9/23/2012

Dave Palermo: Gambling is the elephant in the Carcieri debate
(Washington D.C.) -- The devastating impact recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions have had on the ability of the federal government to place land in trust for American...

9/17/2012

Dave Palermo: Reid/Kyl might be ‘pretty good for tribes.’
(Washington D.C.) -- A summary of Internet poker legislation proposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and John Kyl (R-Ariz.) leaked to the press last week...

9/10/2012

Dave Palermo: Legal sports wagering in California an interesting proposition
(California) -- Should Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court reverse federal law prohibiting sports wagering, there appears to be a difference in opinion as to who might...

9/3/2012

Dave Palermo: Much interest, little consensus on Internet at Shakopee meeting
(Minnesota) -- The fact more than 200 tribal leaders, lawyers, lobbyists and vendors gathered Aug. 22 at Mystic Lakes, Minn., to discuss Internet gambling speaks volumes...

8/29/2012

Dave Palermo: No leadership from tribal federal regulatory on Internet gambling
(Washington D.C.) -- A failure by the top federal regulator for American Indian casinos to take a leadership role on Internet wagering annoys tribal leaders who fear...

8/27/2012

Dave Palermo: AKAKA FIX: Mixing the Internet with a Carcieri fix can be tricky
(Washington D.C.) -- Widespread speculation among Capitol Hill insiders is that Sen. Daniel Akaka, (D-Hawaii), is hoping to use draft Internet legislation as leverage to...

8/21/2012

Dave Palermo: Myth of the rich Indian is just that: a myth
(Washington D.C.) -- News from federal regulators that American Indian casino revenues rose 3 percent in 2011 pointed out once again that despite the “myth of the...

8/19/2012

Dave Palermo: Patchak is the latest in a troublesome trend
(Washington D.C.) -- The June U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving Michigan landowner David Patchak and the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Potawatomi, owners of the Gun...

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