North Fork Rancheria banks on voter approval of casino deal

Artist's rendering of the proposed North Fork Rancheria casino. Image from North Fork Casino Environmental Impact Statement

It's taken the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in California more than a decade to win state and federal approval for its off-reservation casino but it all could be unraveled by voters on election day.

Opponents of the casino collected enough signatures to put Proposition 48 on the ballot this November. A no vote would overturn the bill that ratified the tribe's Class III gaming compact.

"Everyone will benefit, but now we are just getting caught up in red tape. It's frustrating. We just want to do a good thing," Vice Chairwoman Maryann McGovran told The San Francisco Chronicle.

According to BallotPedia, the Table Mountain Rancheria has contributed more than $2 million -- the largest amount -- to the campaign against the compact. The Table Mountain Casino is about 31 miles from the North Fork site.

An investor and bondholder in the casino owned by the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians has contributed another $1.7 million, while the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority has contributed $25,000, according to BallotPedia. The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino is about 38 miles from the North Fork site.

The spending far outweighs the support for the compact. The North Fork Rancheria and its partner, Station Casinos, have only raised $325,000 to defend their project, according to BallotPedia.

A description of Proposition 48, from the California Secretary of State, follows:
Proposition 48 - Referendum to Overturn Indian Gaming Compacts
If signed by the required number of registered voters and timely filed with the Secretary of State, this petition will place on the statewide ballot a challenge to a state law previously approved by the Legislature and the Governor. The law must then be approved by a majority of voters at the next statewide election to go into effect. The law ratifies two gaming compacts (with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, and the Wiyot Tribe); and it exempts execution of the compacts, certain projects, and intergovernmental agreements from the California Environmental Quality Act. (13-0007)

Get the Story:
Tribe's hopes for huge Madera casino hinge on ballot battle (The San Francisco Chronicle 9/18)

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)

Related Stories
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Rival tribes outspend North Fork Rancheria on gaming referendum (9/4)

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