Schwarzenegger in Talks With Tribe Over Expanded Gambling

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to announce a deal that would permit one of California’s richest tribes to open a third casino in the Palm Springs area. The pact could signal a new round of gambling expansion in the state.

Administration officials said Monday that Schwarzenegger and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are slated to sign a deal that would allow the tribe to operate a casino with up to 5,000 slot machines.

The tribe has been known to be a critic of the governor. At the moment they have authorization to house a total of 2,000 slot machines in their two casinos.

The administration officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they noted that the deal remains unsigned and the details are confidential. However, a tribe representative has acknowledged that there are ongoing talks.

“The tribe would not be signing a deal … if we weren’t happy with this,” said Nancy Conrad, Agua Caliente’s press secretary. “I think it is a good deal on several different fronts.”

Agua Caliente is one of the most politically active tribes in the nation, and it has spent $17 million on state campaigns since 2004. It is speculated that Schwarzenegger is banking on the tribe not putting any efforts to unseat him by striking the deal.