Press Releases

Oakland Casino Bid Joins Crowded Field: By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday October 08, 2004

Yet another casino is being floated for the East Bay, this one near the Oakland airport.  

The Lower Lake Rancheria Koi Nation, a federally recognized tribal subgroup of the Pomos, has won the preliminary endorsement of Mayor Jerry Brown thanks to the offer of $11 million a year to cover needed police and fire services and as compensation for tax revenues that would otherwise be lost. 

Earlier plans for another Oakland casino floated three months ago by the Alturas Rancheria Pomo Band, which offered the city a $40 million a year payback, have thus far failed to materialize. 

“We will be building a first class casino, spa and hotel,” said tribal chair Daniel Beltran. The chosen location is a lot at the corner of Pardee Drive and Swann Way just outside the airport boundary. 

The Kois are offering $10.7 million in annual payments to the City of Oakland to compensate for needed police, fire and traffic services and to fund youth programs to reduce crime and violence, he said. 

Beltran said the project would create 4,400 direct and indirect jobs and generate a billion dollars in economic activity each year. 

The tribe is partnering East Bay Gaming, a limited liability corporation created by Alan Ginsburg, founder of North American Sports Management and a host of affiliated gambling companies. He is the same Florida magnate who is developing the Sugar Bowl Casino in North Richmond in partnership with the Scott’s Valley Pomo band. 

The Kois share something else in common with the Scott’s Valley band and with the Guidiville Pomos who have been recruited for the Point Molate Casino. All three are represented by Spencer-Roberts & Associates 

A lobbying firm based in suburban Sacramento, it was co-founded by Stuart K. Spencer, who ran the presidential campaigns of Republicans Nelson Rockefeller, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. 

It was Spencer, a longtime friend of Dick Cheney, who induced a reluctant Reagan to take on George H. W. Bush as his running mate. 

While Spencer remains involved in the firm, the ownership has been transferred to his daughter, Karen. 

Also, backers have pulled the plug on Proposition 68, which would enable card room and race track owners to open full-scale casinos unless tribal casinos agreed to pay 25 percent of their gambling winnings to the state. 

The measure remains on the ballot, but advertising and other campaigning will end.  

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday refused to support a case by four Bay Area card room owners that would have barred the state from giving Native American tribes the exclusive right to own and operate casinos in the state. 

The court let stand a ruling by the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals which rejected the card room owners’ claim that allowing full-scale casinos only to Native Americans constitutes a form of racial discrimination. 

The court ruled that ethnic discrimination wasn’t a factor because the tribes have special rights because they are treated as sovereign nations under federal law.