It has often been said that alcohol and gasoline don’t mix, as a way of warning people not to drink and drive. According to a recent public notice posted in front of the Chumash gambling casino, they are now seeking to expand the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages at their casino complex at 3400 E. Highway 246 in Santa Ynez.

Besides the increases in gambling addictions, crimes of embezzlement and thefts resulting from the presence of a gambling casino in the community there have been tremendous increases in traffic, traffic accidents including injuries and fatalities extending from the casino and even into remote areas of the Valley, to places that rarely experienced crimes of any kind prior to the casino. In one instance, a car was stolen from a residence in Los Olivos that was recovered in Oxnard. Businesses in Buellton have reported the presence of transients sleeping in cars, thefts, thefts from vehicles and other indicia of transient criminal acts.

The increases in traffic on both highway 154 and 246 are clearly visible, and the numbers of accidents have more than tripled in the last few years, particularly on the dangerous stretches of highway 154 up and down San Marcos pass. Very recently, there were two fatalities in as many days involving gamblers headed to or from the casino. Drunken driving arrests were up sharply over this last Memorial Day weekend, putting to rest any notion that the harsher laws in place and stepped-up enforcement of them has curtailed this community problem.

A gambler and admitted drug addict recently reported to the Sheriff’s Department that he lost nearly $10,000 in a couple of months on slot machines and was openly obtaining “meth” while playing slot machines all night long. Further, that two persons, a female and a man, would invite him into free rooms they had at the Chumash hotel to purchase and do drugs. He related they had black Chumash club cards (so called V.I .P. or “high roller” cards) and they could get into the hotel at all hours through a locked door using these pass cards. Not long ago, a single deputy sheriff working a special detail in and around the casino made 36 arrests in only 6 weeks time, mostly for methamphetamine use, possession and sale, and mostly felonies.

The vast losses of many gamblers from surrounding areas have debunked the notion that the Chumash casino is a “destination resort” of any kind. Rather it is a convenient venue for local gamblers from as far as Oxnard and Bakersfield to come and lose money in the name of “entertainment.” Indian casinos, unlike those found in the state of Nevada, are not randomly tested and inspected by independent law enforcement agencies – nor are they required to have fair rates of return for gamblers playing their slot machines as required by Nevada law, where the slot machines are subjected to unannounced testing of the pay-out rates by teams of agents from the Nevada Gaming Commission and must demonstrate they are paying out at least the minimum fair rate of return.

Gambling casinos are designed without windows or clocks or any other frame of reference to insure that gamblers, particularly slot machine players, have no reference to time. That is because the psychology of slot machines is to pay out small amounts to gamblers periodically to create the sensation of “winning,” while in fact, over time, the “players” are losing far more than they are winning. The psychology of “player club cards” is part of this strategy to create the sensation of winning “something” even though you are losing lots. So if you lose several hundred dollars, you might still get a free buffet lunch if you are “playing” with a club card. Scientists tell us this phenomenon of creating a pleasurable or winning sensation, stimulates a chemical called dopamine in a person’s brain, kind of like when you find a $20 bill on the sidewalk. It is this inability to make rational choices and overcome pleasurable experience that fuels slot machine players to keep losing large amounts of money over time, while seemingly “winning” by getting small “jackpots” in the process. This happens to them, even though in the back of their rational mind, they know their chances of winning anything significant are so unlikely as to be negligible.

The “entertainment” value of playing a slot machine for hours in such a state is questionable and with respect to gambling addicts, it is downright dangerous causing most to lose money they often cannot afford to lose. This is aggravated by the presence of ATMs on the gambling floor to enable these “players” to drain money from their bank accounts and continue losing when they run out of money.

This why there are so many people playing and losing money that they often cannot afford to lose on slot machines in these gambling casinos, particularly the uninspected, unregulated and un-policed Indian casinos. Slot machine players rarely calculate the amount they pump into these machines versus the amount they have lost over time, and when they finally realize they have been losing, (usually when they are completely out of money) they are embarrassed to admit what they have done. Gambling casinos count on this inability to exercise rational judgment, which accounts for the millions they take in and the vast profits they make.

Given all of these negative factors – that is, increased crime, drunk driving, accidents with injury and fatalities, gambling addictions, credit and financial problems and bankruptcies, family neglect and divorce, drug use and abuse and monies being lost regularly by people taken in by the psychology of slot machines preying on the inability to exercise rational decisions – why in the world would anyone other than the casino, want to introduce increased alcohol consumption into the mix? Alcohol is known to impair judgment and lessen inhibitions!

Enough is enough. Local law enforcement, fire and emergency responders already spend a disproportionate amount of time responding to incidents at the Chumash casino complex. Because of an outdated quirk in the law, overlooked when Indian gambling was authorized by Congress, these tribal casinos and businesses can evade the taxes necessary to fund all of these public services and the costs of the infrastructure they use regularly.

Just ask, for example, how much of the expensive road improvements paid for by the taxpayers, which were recently required because of casino traffic turning from 154 to 246, were paid for by the tribe?

The amount of money that trickles down into the local economy from the “jobs” at the casino and the hotel, or the goods and services consumed there, are a drop in the bucket compared to the demands placed on all public services and the cost for infrastructure maintenance and improvements. Most reliable studies by independent economists, not those bought and paid for by tribal casinos, indicate, that for every dollar that comes into a community because of the presence of a casino, it costs the community $3.50.

These economic calculations do not take into account the immeasurable effects, such as costs attributable to increases in crime, substance abuse, divorce and family neglect, financial problems caused by gamblers losing money they cannot afford to lose, even increases in suicide or accidents, injuries and fatalities occurring on nearby roadways involving gamblers coming and going to a casino, like the Chumash venue.

As set out above, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is commonly known to affect one’s judgment, producing irrational behavior and affecting rational thought process. One need only read a newspaper, particularly the daily or weekly “police blotters” to see all manner of irrational and illegal behaviors by persons under the influence of alcohol or drugs and alcohol combined.

It is clearly in the best interest of those sensible and responsible citizens in the community to oppose adding increased alcoholic beverage sales and consumption into this already volatile mix created by the Chumash casino. There is absolutely no benefit and potentially dangerous and costly negative impacts to those residents in the community who receive no profit distributions from the gambling losses taken in by the casino distributed to the152 enrolled tribal members. It is abundantly clear that alcohol and gambling do not mix at any gambling casino like the Chumash casino, situated on the side of a state highway in Santa Ynez and where the huge parking structures are testimony to the fact that most gamblers and visitors are coming there by car, and not on board the free and euphemistically titled “ride to riches” bus service.

A copy of the form needed to protest the pending casino application to expand the sales, consumption and use of alcoholic beverages at the Chumash casino complex, appears on the accompanying page. It can be cut out and copied onto a standard sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper, filled out, signed and verified, and mailed or faxed to the San Luis Obispo District Office. Forms and protest instructions are also available online by going to the California State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board site and clicking on the links for protest information, instructions and form procurement.

Mailing address and fax number:

Fax: (805) 543-3814

Regular 1st Class Mail

State of California

Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Board

San Luis Obispo District Office

3220 S. Higuera St., Suite 233

San Luis Obispo, CA 93401