Off-reservation gaming dead in tracks after California election

Artist's rendering of the proposed North Fork Rancheria casino. Image from North Fork EIS

Off-reservation gaming appears to be dead for the foreseeable future in California due to opposition from voters and tribes with existing casinos.

In late August 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) made history by approving two off-reservation gaming projects. His decision for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and another for the Enterprise Rancheria marked the first time that any tribe in California completed both steps of the two-part determination process of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Neither tribe, however, is any closer to opening an off-reservation casino. Voters across California rejected a Class III gaming compact for the North Fork Rancheria at the polls last November and Brown will not negotiate a new deal as a result, a letter from his "Senior Advisor for Tribal Negotiations" stated.

The Proposition 48 campaign that put the compact on the ballot was primarily funded by tribes with existing casinos who feared more competition. The Table Mountain Rancheria, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians and investors in the now-shuttered facility owned by the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians spent $18 million to prevent new development.

Rendering of the proposed Enterprise Rancheria casino. Image from Enterprise Rancheria

The North Fork Rancheria is now in federal court in hopes of reviving the project. The lawsuit accuses the state of failing to negotiate in good faith.

The Enterprise Rancheria is also suing the state. The tribe's compact was never approved by state lawmakers amid controversy over the North Fork deal.

A sign at the site in Barstow, California, where Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians wants to build an off-reservation casino. Photo from Barstow Casino and Resort

Brown's refusal to consider off-reservation gaming looks bad for the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians. Although local support for the $160 million Barstow Casino and Resort remains strong the tribe still needs the state's backing.

Brown is serving his fourth, non-consecutive term as governor. He will remain in office until 2018 so any two-part determination decisions or proposals are likely to run into a dead end as long as he remains in charge.

Get the Story:
Officials say North Fork negotiations ‘futile’ post-Prop. 48 (The Fresno Bee 4/4)

Federal Register Notices:
Indian Gaming (October 22, 2013)
Land Acquisitions; North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California (December 3, 2012)

Bureau of Indian Affairs Documents:
Press Release | Fact Sheet: North Fork Rancheria Decision | Section 20 Determination: North Fork Rancheria

Related Stories
Patrick Sullivan: North Fork Rancheria in long drama for casino (4/3)
North Fork Rancheria sues California for off-reservation casino (03/18)
Rivals spent $18M to oppose North Fork off-reservation casino (02/03)
Court won't review decision favoring North Fork Rancheria casino (01/16)
Editorial: Don't let North Fork Rancheria proceed with casino plan (01/05)

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