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Compton Casino Faces Long Odds

A Santa Monica–based Indian tribe’s plan to build Los Angeles’ first slot-machine casino in Compton may be dead. Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) last week withdrew a bill that would have established a state-recognized reservation on 40 acres in Compton and allowed the Gabrielino/Tongva Tribal Council to enter into a state-sanctioned gaming compact.

The decision to pull AB 2272 came after a ruling by the state’s legislative counsel that the state could only enter into gaming agreements with federally recognized tribes — not state-recognized tribes like the landless Gabrielinos. The counsel opinion fell on the heels of Compton’s rescinding its offer to sell a former auto mall for the 4,000-slot-machine casino.

Last December, the Compton City Council passed a motion supporting St. Monica Development Corporation’s offer to purchase the land. The plan included a promenade, supermarket and theaters as well as a cultural center. Supporters estimated the Tongva Entertainment Facility would employ 4,000 and raise $35 million in revenue for city and school agencies in its first year, and net each member of the 400-strong tribe more than $12,500 per month.

On April 13, Compton’s Urban Community Development Commission reversed its offer of land, citing the doubt surrounding the tribe’s power to gain recognition from the state. “It was too speculative,” said Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin. “I believed it wouldn’t come to fruition and that it was a waste of time.”

Instead, the council chose to enter into an exclusive agreement with former USC and Oakland Raider quarterback Vince Evans’ Prism-IQ Partners to build a $43 million shopping mall.

Attorney Jonathan Stein says the Santa Monica-based tribe might sue Compton, which he says acted in bad faith. “There was an agreement,” he said. “I don’t believe California law allows cities to do what Perrodin directed Compton to do. Perrodin does not belong in politics. And that belief is shared by 99 percent of the people that supported him in the last election.”

Perrodin says the people of Compton can handle the criticism. “They don’t like outsiders coming in telling us what to do.”