North Fork Rancheria's off-reservation casino clears BIA hurdle

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California has cleared another hurdle in its bid for an off-reservation casino.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs allowed the tribe's Class III gaming compact to go into effect. A notice that was published in the Federal Register on Tuesday announced the development.

"This is an important day for North Fork, Madera County, and poorer tribes across the state who will directly benefit from the jobs, economic activity, and public funding this compact delivers," Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink said in a press release. "Now at last we can all focus on coming together, moving forward, and clearing any remaining obstacles to delivering on the true promise of Indian gaming: jobs, tribal self-sufficiency, and community funding."

The compact was the last federal hurdle facing the tribe. The BIA has already placed the 305-acre casino site in trust.

However, a group called Stand Up for California is hoping to put the compact on the state ballot in 2014. It's not clear what would happen if voters approve the referendum, which has yet to be certified.

When a similar situation arose in New York, the BIA refused to invalidate a gaming compact for the Oneida Nation that had been invalidated through the state court system. In 2007, the Bush administration said there was no mechanism in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to revoke compacts.

Get the Story:
Feds give final OK to North Fork Indians' casino project on Highway 99 (The Fresno Bee 10/23)
Feds approve the North Fork casino project on Highway 99 (KFSN 10/22)
Might 2014 ballot fight over Valley casino be too late? (News10 10/22)

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

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

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