|Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took office today as California's 38th Governor, plans to tax casinos in order to alleviate the state's huge budget deficit. The deficit will probably be more than $10 billion next year according to analysts. It’s yet another example of the way US states are looking at the casino industry as a piggy bank. The federal government has been cutting back on the amount of money that goes back to the states, so the money has to come from somewhere – so why not the easy target represented by casinos?|
In California, casinos run by Native American tribes have boomed, while other sectors have hit hard times. Tribal gaming accounted for a 12 percent rise in employment, according to a 2002 tribal economic study, compared to the overall civilian labour force in California growing at under one percent.
However, despite their tax-exempt status, Indian casinos still have access to state amenities such as police, fire departments, hospitals, roads and flood-control systems.
During his campaign, Schwarzenegger accused gaming interests of raking in millions of dollars of profit without giving enough back to the state, and hinted it’s time for the tribes and other gaming interests to start paying their fair share. Nice one Arnie. After all, it’s easier than going after Enron for the $9 billion they owe California electricity and gas customers? But the Terminator isn’t going to be doing that. Because Arnie, unbeknownst to many, is pretty friendly with Kenneth Lay, of Enron infamy. But that’s another story...