North Fork Rancheria wins final decision in gaming compact case

Artist's rendering of the proposed North Fork Rancheria casino. Image from North Fork EIS

After more than a decade of work, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in California appears to be getting closer to a casino.

The tribe won a final decision in its Class III gaming compact lawsuit earlier this month after a federal judge saw no need to delay the matter any further. Closing the case solidifies the Class III gaming procedures that the tribe secured from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“Our tribe is delighted by the court’s ruling in response to one of the latest attempts to clog the courts and stifle legitimate competition,” Chairwoman Maryann McGovran told The Sierra Star.

The August 10 decision cited five other lawsuits in which opponents -- including tribes with existing casinos -- are trying to stop the North Fork Rancheria from moving forward with its long-delayed project in Madera County.

"There is more than a fair possibility of harm to North Fork if a stay is imposed," Judge Anthony Ishii wrote in the decision.

Opponents include the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, whose leaders have spent millions of dollars on litigation and public relations campaigns against the North Fork development even though their own gaming facility -- the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino -- was shut down for 14 months as part of an internal dispute. The Chukchansis filed three out of the five lawsuits that were mentioned in the decision.

Additionally, the Chukchansis are lobbying Congress to pass the H.R.5079, the California Compact Protection Act. The bill would prevent the BIA from approving or otherwise allowing Class III gaming for the North Fork Rancheria -- something that already happened when the agency issued the Class III gaming procedures.

Read More on the Story:
Mono casino helped by judge closing case (The Sierra Star 8/30)

Class III Gaming Procedures:
Bureau of Indian Affairs Letter | Secretarial Procedures | Mediator's Compact

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 for North Fork Rancheria:
Press Release | Fact Sheet | Section 20 Determination

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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