Allowing slot machines on Washington’s Indian reservations would lead to unrestricted gambling statewide and corruption, a Republican candidate for governor predicted Monday.
Jim Waldo, a Tacoma attorney and longtime GOP activist, held a press conference in Spokane to denounce the ballot proposal to permit more types of reservation gambling.
Initiative 651, backed by the Spokane, Shoalwater and Puyallup tribes, will be on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. It would allow slot machines, video poker and other types of casino gambling on reservations.
Waldo believes the initiative does not provide enough control and oversight of reservation gambling. He predicted that if I-651 passes, communities near the reservations soon would ask the Legislature to give them the same rights to open casinos.
Tribal leaders said last week that passing the initiative will help the state by creating more jobs and higher incomes for reservation residents. It would provide money for tribal schools, roads, clinics and other programs at a time when Congress is threatening to cut federal money for those items, they said.
But Waldo predicted unrestricted gambling would be a “false dream” for tribes seeking an economic boost. “We ought to be focusing on economic prosperity instead,” he said.
The tribes pushing the initiative should follow the same restrictions as the 15 other tribes that have negotiated gambling agreements with the state, he added.