California Supreme Court Decision Advances Planned Tribal Casino

Posted on: September 1, 2020, 04:20h. 

Last updated on: September 2, 2020, 10:24h.

A proposed tribal gaming property near Madera, Calif. got a push forward this week when the state’s Supreme Court dismissed a long-standing lawsuit. The move was celebrated by the tribe.

Gov. Brown Acted Properly in Casino Issue
Former California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) acted within his authority when approving tribal gaming projects, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled. (Image: Wall Street Journal)

The state’s highest court ruled that former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) acted within his authority. when he concurred in a pair of federal decisions in 2011 that led to the approval of two so-called off-reservation tribal gaming projects in Madera and Yuba counties.

The new casino is planned for 305 acres of unincorporated property near Highway 99. Plans call for 2,000 slots, 40 table games, and it will include a 200-room hotel. The casino still needs to be designed, funded, and constructed.

The decision was welcome news to the tribe’s leadership.

We are thrilled that the Court has finally decided this case in our favor,” North Fork Rancheria Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink said in a statement sent to “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.”

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

Station Casinos Join Project

The project traces its origins to 2003 when the tribe and Station Casinos inked an agreement to develop a gaming property. Station Casinos is controlled by Red Rock Resorts, Inc. and operates multiple gaming properties in Southern Nevada.

In 2004, North Fork Rancheria was approved by the federal government to take land near Madera in trust for gaming.

In 2012, Gov. Brown agreed to the plan. But casino opponents challenged the governor’s authority, claiming legislative authorization was required. Two appeals courts later disagreed on the case. The dispute was eventually heard by the Supreme Court in 2017.

There are three gaming properties — the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, Table Mountain Casino, and the Club One Casino — within short drives of Madera.

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe. It has over 2,200 tribal citizens and government offices in Madera County.

Local Approval

Many local residents have paid attention to the court case.

“I say let them build. I live in the town of Madera, … and believe it would be great for the local economy,” In June, Steven Chambers posted on “Plus, it would give the other casinos some competition. I am very much looking forward to the groundbreaking.”