California Supreme Court ruling paves way for tribal casino near Madera

California Supreme Court ruling paves way for tribal casino near Madera

The federally recognized North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians Tribe has welcomed the California Supreme Court’s ruling in which it dismissed a long-standing lawsuit opposing the tribe’s proposal to build and operate a casino near Madera.

The casino project was originally proposed in 2003, when the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians Tribe and Red Rock Resorts Inc.-owned Station Casinos signed a deal to develop a gambling and entertainment property. In 2004, the tribe urged the federal government to take a patch of land into trust for the proposed facility. The request was approved and 305 acres of land was taken into trust by the federal authorities.

In 2012, the then governor, Jerry Brown, agreed to the casino plan but opponents challenged the governor’s authority, arguing that it lacked legislative authorization and public support. The dispute remained unresolved even after intervention by two lower courts. Eventually in 2017, the the United Auburn Indian Community of the Auburn Rancheria versus Gov. Gavin C. Newsom case was heard by the Supreme Court of the Golden State.

The Golden State’s apex court ruled that the former governor acted within his authority when he approved two purported ‘off-reservation’ tribal casino projects in Madera and Yuba counties. The court concluded that the former governor acted in accordance with the law when he harmonized with the Interior Secretary’s determination.

Charles Banks-Altekruse, a spokesperson for North Fork Rancheria tribe, told on Tuesday (September 1), “We are still processing the decision and will have more to share with the community in the weeks ahead.”

Welcoming the court’s ruling, North Fork Rancheria Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink said in a statement that they were very thrilled as the apex court finally decided resolved the dispute in their favor.

Commenting on the ruling, Bethel-Fink said, “We are thrilled that the Court has finally decided this case in our favor. Our tribal citizens and local community have been denied the advantages of tribal gaming — billions of dollars in economic benefits and thousands of jobs — for far too long.”

Bethel-Fink said further said that members of the federally recognized tribe were deeply delighted as the long drawn out drama was finally behind them, and they would now be able to enjoy economic benefits of the facility.

Planned to be constructed on a 305-acre patch of land close to Highway 99 in Madera, the proposed facility is expected to provide a big boost tot eh local economy by generating thousands of construction and permanent jobs. Once completed, it will feature 2,000 slot machines, 40 table games, in addition to a 200-room hotel.