The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians owns and operates the San Pablo Lytton Casino in San Pablo, California. Photo: Cary Bass-Deschenes

Lytton Band agrees to permanent ban on gaming as homelands bill awaits action

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians has agreed to a permanent ban on gaming on any land acquired in Sonoma County, California.

The tribe has never expressed intentions to engage in gaming on its ancestral lands in the county, which it lost during the termination era. The San Pablo Lytton Casino is instead located further away, closer to the Bay Area.

But as the tribe awaits final action on a homelands bill in Congress, an existing agreement has been amended to include a permanent ban on gaming. The county's board of supervisors approved the modification on Tuesday, The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported.

“The amendment is to extend prohibition of gaming countywide in perpetuity,” supervisor David Rabbitt said at the meeting, the paper reported. “That is pretty damn good and that’s why we’re here today.”

As introduced, H.R.597, the Lytton Rancheria Homelands Act, imposed a ban on gaming on the 511 acres being placed in trust. For future acquisitions, it included a permanent ban in a certain part of the county but left open the door for gaming in the remaining portion after March 2037, which was when the agreement with the county expired.

The updated agreement, however, imposes a permanent ban on gaming on all future acquired lands "so long as the tribe has trust lands in Sonoma County." In other words, in perpetuity.

The House passed H.R.597 by unanimous consent in July 2017. The bill was approved under a suspension of the rules, a process typically used for non-controversial legislation.

After clearning the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on July 9, the bill is now ready for action on the Senate. It appears it will be approved at some point by a voice vote, or by unanimous consent, since The Press-Democrat reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) have agreed to its passage.

Previously, Feinstein opposed the tribe's legislative efforts because she was upset with the way the land for the San Pablo Lytton Casino was acquired way back in 2000. A Republican-controlled Congress passed a bill, which was signed into law by a Democratic president, to place the site in trust without any prior discussion or debate.

The tribe has been unable to expand the footprint of the casino or offer slot machines, blackjack or other Class III games due to Feinstein's stance.

Harris is a new member of Congress. When she served as the state's attorney general, she repeatedly opposed tribal land-into-trust applications

Read More on the Story:
Sonoma County supervisors amend Lytton Rancheria deal to include permanent ban on gaming (The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat August 7, 2018)
Petaluma wants a say in county casino negotiations (The Petaluma Argus-Courier August 2, 2018)

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