Editor's Note
California Lawyer

Tribal Gaming

September 2014

Writer Thomas Peele is no stranger to casinos. He's covered gambling as a newspaper reporter in Atlantic City and began writing about Indian gaming in 2000 when he moved to California. Last year he wrote a story for this magazine about online gambling ("Wanna Bet?" February 2013). "California is the largest gaming market in the country," notes Peele. "And the irony is that gambling is also banned in the state's constitution."

Peele, who wrote this month's cover story ("Leaving Las Vegas") is fascinated by the public policy debate over where tribal casinos can be built and what share of the revenue goes to the various governments involved. "Certainly in California the Indians have all the leverage," says Peele. "They negotiate with the state, and they don't have to deal with the locals if they don't want to."

For casino opponents, the November ballot referendum to approve two tribal gaming compacts signed by Gov. Jerry Brown (Proposition 48) is a "second bite of the apple," says Peele, referring to the passage in 2000 of the proposition to allow gaming on tribal lands. "It will be a political defeat for the governor if it loses."

Meanwhile in Northern California, litigants are waiting for an appellate court to rule on a jurisdictional challenge to the Graton Resort and Casino's right to operate in Rohnert Park. "The biggest surprise would be if this [tribal] casino were shuttered or gambling stopped by a court order," says Peele. "So much money is at stake, it's impossible to believe anyone would turn off a money spigot that's been gushing for a year already."

Also in this issue is our annual survey of the biggest firms in the state ("The 2014 California 50"). In addition to gathering the data, our news and trends editor Laura Impellizzeri spoke with twelve law firm leaders who agreed that the California market is emerging from recession and firms are achieving stability. "The figures seem to bear that out," says Impellizzeri. Even so, she notes that overall, more of the ranked firms reduced their attorney head counts in California than added to them.

Impellizzeri noticed a slight drop in the number of attorneys working part time. In addition, she says, "the overall picture for women and minorities remains disappointing, but these lawyers fare slightly better in the Golden State than they do at offices of California 50 firms nationwide."

And finally, Santa Clara University law professors Gerald Uelmen and Kyle Graham review a year's worth of state Supreme Court decisions and discuss the impact of two justices' departures from the bench ("Sede Vacante at the California Supreme Court").

I look forward to hearing from you about this issue. Just drop me a line at CL_Editor@dailyjournal.com.

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