When California tribal governments negotiated and signed the historic Tribal-State Compact in 1999, they insisted on the establishment of the Special Distribution Fund (SDF), designed to return monies to local communities impacted by tribal government gaming facilities, and its inclusion in the Compact.
The SDF creates a funding source for many public uses, including local governments impacted by tribal government gaming, local governments impacted by tribal casinos not currently paying into the SDF, special districts impacted by tribal government gaming, gambling addiction programs, and reimbursement to the Division of Gambling Control and the California Gambling Control Commission for regulatory costs, and providing revenues for non-gaming tribes.
Priorities for disbursements include local law enforcement, fire and other emergency services, environmental impacts, water supplies, behavioral health, land use, public health, roads, recreation, youth and child care programs.
The tribal governments in Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties that make up the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations (TASIN) will alone contribute more than $1 billion, nearly two-thirds of all payments to the SDF, through the life of the Compact.
TASIN tribal governments contribute far more to local communities than the SDF. They employ more than 14,000 Californians, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in payroll and billions of dollars in annual economic activity through gaming operations and other tribal government enterprises.
In March 2002, the tribes of TASIN extended an invitation to local governments surrounding their tribal casinos to participate in what became known as the Local Government Committee (TASIN-LGC).
The committee consisted of TASIN representatives and a diverse group of local governments from Riverside, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara counties. Members of the group represented numerous sectors of local government, including cities, counties, police, fire, and sheriff’s departments.
There was concern that the state would use SDF funds for programs unrelated to tribal government gaming. TASIN utilized the expertise of local government officials in crafting a system for the disbursement of SDF funds to local governments.
In a landmark model of government-to-government cooperation, the TASIN-LGC committee worked diligently over many months to develop a fair and equitable proposal to allocate monies from the SDF. This proposal served as the foundation for SB 621, authored by Senators Jim Battin (R-La Quinta), John Burton (D-San Francisco), and Assemblyman Jerome Horton (D-Inglewood), which established a mechanism for these allocations.
SB 621 enjoyed statewide support from cities and counties, the California Nations Indian Gaming Association, law enforcement organizations, and more than 50 tribal governments.
SB 621 was eventually signed into law on October 11, 2003, ensuring tens of millions of dollars come back to communities throughout the Inland Empire each year.