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  Contra Costa Times Editorial: Richmond was Right to Kill Proposed Casino
April 8, 2011

Contra Costa Times editorial: Richmond was right to kill proposed casino

Contra Costa Times editorial
© Copyright 2011, Bay Area News Group
Posted: 04/07/2011 04:00:00 PM PDT

The Rev. Kenneth Davis, of Richmond, speaks out against a casino during a City Council meeting at..

BAY AREA residents can breathe a brief sigh of relief following the Richmond City Council's rejection this week of plans for a shoreline casino that could have turned the region into a gambling destination.
And Richmond residents can celebrate that their votes made a huge difference in defeating the plans by the tiny Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians to build a massive resort and casino at Point Molate.
The casino would have been bigger than two football fields with more slot machines than the largest gaming facility in Nevada.
Before the November election -- in which city voters rejected an advisory measure on whether to proceed with the casino and elected two new council members opposed to it -- the project was still very much alive.
But the threat of Bay Area urban gaming has not gone away. As long as federal law allows for wealth-seeking Indian tribes, and the speculating developers who underwrite them, to go shopping for land with marginal historical connection to their ancestors, the possibility remains.
Just a few miles from the rejected Richmond proposal, on unincorporated land outside the city limits, the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians proposes a casino with 2,000 slot machines, about the same size as the typical big-name operation in Nevada.
Unfortunately, while the proposal awaits federal approval, the area's congressman, George Miller, D-Martinez, has been conspicuously silent, despite clear voter opposition to casinos in Richmond and the county's opposition to the North Richmond proposal.
There are legitimate concerns about the social effects of urban gaming, from crime and the disproportionate effect on poor households to increased gambling addiction and increased social service costs.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein stands out for her recognition of the problems. The state's senior senator has called for an end to reservation shopping.
Tribes, she says, should "demonstrate substantial direct modern and ancestral connections to any land they seek for casinos." Miller and other Bay Area representatives need to get on board and support her on this issue.
Under Feinstein's standard, the two West County casino plans would have never surfaced. Richmond officials could have spent the past 15 years considering more practical proposals for development of the shoreline site, a former naval fuel depot that the city acquired from the federal government.
That is what they should start doing now. It is time to turn the page of this saga.