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INDIAN GAMING

“I think people need to seriously question the tenacity with which the Doyle administration is bargaining.”

Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center
Senate Majority Leader

Madison (AP) – Some Republican legislative leaders contend that the chief negotiator for Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle should be able to get more from gambling contracts with Indian tribes as other states consider proposals that would bring them as much as a quarter of the revenue.

“I think people need to seriously question the tenacity with which the Doyle administration is bargaining,” Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, said Thursday as Wisconsin gets about 4.5 percent to 8 percent of casino revenue from tribes.

Doyle’s top negotiator, Administration Secretary Marc Marotta, said he expects the state will preserve the roughly $100 million a year it collects from Indian casinos.

Marotta also said the tribes probably will still offer games such as poker and roulette after new deals are reached, despite a state Supreme Court decision this year that said those games are prohibited by the Wisconsin Constitution.

“If … they come back with the exact same amount of money, I think that’s disastrous and very disappointing,” Schultz said.

The Senate majority leader and other Republicans noted that two Wisconsin tribes, the Oneida and Stockbridge-Munsee, made headway this week on building a casino in New York by signing an agreement that would eventually turn 25 percent of their revenue from slot machines over to that state. The deal still needs state and federal approval.

Assembly Speaker John Gard, R-Peshtigo, said the state should be getting three to five times more from the tribes than it is now.

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“This is serious money for schools, health care (and) other things that we’re just leaving on the table,” Gard said.

Marotta and the tribes restarted talks after the state Supreme Court ruled that Doyle did not have the authority to sign a deal with the Forest County Potawatomi. The court said the deal did not have a firm termination date, illegally suspended the state’s immunity from lawsuits and wrongly allowed the tribe to offer new games. Doyle had reached similar deals with all but one tribe.

The administration secretary said that, with Wisconsin required to negotiate compacts with firm termination dates, state officials cannot expect to receive as much money.

“It’s very hard negotiating when you ask someone to take less and pay the same amount of money,” he said.

Marotta declined to say what kind of terms were being discussed.

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