North Fork Rancheria gets closer to new Class III gaming compact

The North Fork Rancheria maintains an office in North Fork, California. Photo from Facebook

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is moving closer to a new Class III gaming compact for a controversial off-reservation casino in California.

Last November, a federal judge ruled that the state failed to engage in "good faith" talks as required by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The decision came after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) refused to come to the table after voters rejected the tribe's prior compact at the polls a year earlier.

A federal mediator has since selected a new agreement that would allow the tribe to offer Class III gaming at a 305-acre site that's already in trust. Now it's up to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to approve it, reject it or allow it to take effect.

But rival tribes are hoping Congress will stop the project by passing. H.R.5079, the California Compact Protection Act. The bill bars the BIA from approving or otherwise allowing Class III gaming on the North Fork's site.

Section 3 of the bill is so specific that it can only apply to the North Fork Rancheria and to the Enterprise Rancheria, another California tribe that won approval for an off-reservation casino through the two-part determination provisions of IGRA. If it becomes law, it won't hinder gaming compacts negotiated in the future by rival tribes like the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians.

The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee but a hearing hasn't been scheduled. It's possible that the BIA could take action on the North Fork compact before Congress moves forward.

Get the Story:
New North Fork casino compact would exempt it from tribal payments (The Fresno Bee 5/9)

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

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