(See Legends Casino Show for line-up)
With a big club show scheduled for Saturday night, April 1, at the Yakama
Nation Legends Casino in Toppenish, Wa, the Yakama tribe booted the state
boxing regulators off the reservation on Thursday afternoon and, as of 9
a.m. on Friday, March 31, created their own tribal regulatory commission.
All perfectly legal as specified by the federal Professional Boxing Safety
Act of 1996.
The Professional Athletics Division of the Wasington Deptartment of
Licensing commonly regulates and taxes boxing shows at tribal casinos in
Washington without any written agreements. Jeff Connors, Entertainment
Manager of the Yakama Nation Legends Casino says the tribe has not been
impressed with the quality of matches approved by the state agency at
other shows in the state. The tribe did not approve of the state allowing
inter-gender boxing in the famous October '99 show in Seattle, and did not
like the general direction of the agency.
The tribe had discussed forming its own boxing commission prior to
this event, but the state's "slow and arbitrary decisions" regarding this
show triggered the break. Connors says the tribe had never questioned the
state agency's right to approve or disapprove matches but had always
questioned the agency's timeliness.
As a last-ditch negotiating stance, Connors says the tribe offered to
have the state continue to assign officials and to collect the 5% tax on
the ticket sales, with the tribe making all match-making and licensing
decisions. The state refused.
The Washington Department of Licensing is responsible for many
industries and professions, and Connors says "it's not appropriate to have
the same people who issue licenses for smelt fishing and applying hair and
nail laquer responsible for making potential life and death decisions
Rumors from inside the Dept. of Licensing are that the people actually
charged with making match approval decisions have OK'd Legends matches,
which were then disapproved by supervisors who are less knowledgeable
about the boxing business.
In this last minute crisis, the Yakama tribe has engaged the former
executive director of the Oregon Commission, Bruce Anderson, to act as
their consultant in devising their new agency and assuring the legal
compliance of the Saturday show.
There is some concern that judges and referees licensed by the State of
Washington may be sanctioned by the state for officiating on the Yakama
show, so some officials are being brought in from out of state.
The Yakama tribe is currently at war on other fronts with the state of
Washington. The state seizes truckloads of cigarettes on the road to the
reservation where they are legally sold at a low price with no state
taxes. In retaliation the tribe shut down all sales of alcoholic beverages
on the large reservation, driving the state liquor control agency bonkers
over lost tax revenue. The tribal move also irritated the Mothers Against
Drunk Driving chapters of the nearby city of Yakima. MADD is complaining
about drinkers driving the highway between the city and the reservation.
Attempts by Washington government to negotiate a close to the hostilities
have been fruitless.
Some observers speculate that the practices of the Department of
Licensing may reflect a governmental response to the cigarette and booze
dispute with the Yakama tribe.