A bit of gambling advice for Gov. Gregoire and my Democratic friends in the state legislature: don’t take the wager that you can let the proposed Spokane Tribe gambling compact slide through without much debate or opposition. It’s a sucker’s bet.
This compact is a bad deal for everybody except the Spokanes, and would inevitably lead to a massive expansion of gambling statewide. If well publicized, it would also be immensely unpopular with voters, and could lead to real political repercussions.
The WSRP has been grasping at straws these past couple years looking for an issue that holds traction with voters, and in their opposition to the Spokane compact they have found one that crosses party lines. Just two years ago voters overwhelmingly defeated I-892 — Tim Eyman’s slot machine initiative — by a 61 to 39 percent margin. (It failed 63 to 37 percent in Spokane County.) Yet the Spokane compact would essentially do for tribal casinos what I-892 hoped to do for card rooms and bowling alleys.
By federal law the Spokanes have the right to negotiate the same terms offered the other tribes in Washington state, but the same is true in reverse. If the Spokanes get 4,700 Las Vegas style slot machines, every tribe in the state is going to reopen their compact looking for the same deal. The same is true of the increased betting limits offered the Spokanes.
State Republicans sense the enormous political opportunity this proposed compact gives them, and they don’t even have to resort to lies, hate-mongering and obfuscations to make their point. So hot is the WSRP on this issue that they even made it a primary focus of a recent conference call with journalists and (mostly) right-wing bloggers.
With little else to spark widespread voter ire at their Democratic colleagues, the R’s are prepared to make this one of the signature issues of this session. Don’t let them.
Voice your opposition now. Oppose this compact and instruct the negotiators to go back to the table. It’s not only good for the state, it’s good politics.