Enterprise Rancheria waits on Bureau of Indian Affairs for Class III gaming procedures

The Enterprise Rancheria of California held a sunrise groundbreaking ceremony for the $170 million Fire Mountain Casino on April 8, 2016. Photo by Yuba County / Facebook

The Enterprise Rancheria is waiting on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to develop Class III gaming procedures for its casino in California.

The state failed to consent to a proposed gaming compact that had been selected by a federal mediator, The Marysville Appeal-Democrat reports. The agreement is now being sent to the BIA for the next step in the process.

"We would expect the procedures to be consistent with the compact selected by the mediator, John Maier, an attorney for the tribe, told The Appeal-Democrat.

Once the BIA takes action, it would mark a rare step for the agency and for tribes in California. The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians secured approval of its Class III gaming procedures in 2013 after winning a lawsuit which determined that the state failed to negotiate an agreement "good faith" as required by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The Enterprise Rancheria won a similar ruling in its lawsuit. But rival tribes are trying to block the effort by asking Congress to pass H.R.5079, the California Compact Protection Act.

If enacted into law, the bill would bar the BIA from issuing Class III gaming procedures or taking other steps to allow Class III gaming on the Enterprise Rancheria's trust lands. The provisions were written very narrowly in order to protect tribes with existing casinos once they return to the negotiating table to update their compacts.

The bill has drawn considerable scrutiny in Indian legal and political circles. It has not received a hearing and it's possible that the BIA could make a decision on the Class III gaming procedures before the end of the 114th Congress later this year.

Regardless of the BIA's timetable, the Enterprise Rancheria plans to open the Fire Mountain Casino on its trust lands in April of May of 2017. The tribe broke ground on the 140,000 square-foot facility in April.

Get the Story:
Missed deadline sends Fire Mountain Casino compact to D.C. (The Marysville Appeal-Democrat 7/8)

Tribal Leader Opinions on H.R.5079, the California Compact Protection Act:
Maryann McGovran: Don't be fooled by efforts of 'wealthy' tribes (5/13)
Claudia Gonzales: Off-reservation gaming fuels attacks on tribes (5/13)

Bureau of Indian Affairs Documents:
Press Release | Fact Sheet | Two-Part Determination Letter

Federal Register Notice:
Land Acquisitions; Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California (December 3, 2012)

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