Scotts Valley Band sets off frenzy with plans for new casino site

A tribal gathering. Photo by Scotts Valley TANF

Politicians in California are doing their best to stop the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians from pursuing a casino even though the process has barely started.

All the usual suspects are involved, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), a "reservation shopping" foe, and local officials who contend casinos are not compatible with the wine-producing industry in the region. They are upset because no one told them in advance about the tribe's plans.

“There has been no notice to the surrounding tribes with historic ties to the area," Feinstein asserted in a July 22 letter to the Obama administration, The Napa Valley Register reported. "The affected cities and counties are similarly left in the dark. And the agency has failed to provide any notice to the state. That’s a problem.”

According to the paper, the tribe submitted a land-into-trust application on August 11. The process requires the Bureau of Indian Affairs to notify state and local governments so it would have been impossible for the agency to do that beforehand.

The tribe did ask for the Obama administration about the potential to use newly acquired lands for gaming. But that query -- which was made on January 29, according to the paper -- does not trigger any notification requirements and can't be completely answered until a specific site is submitted through a land-into-trust application.

The tribe previously sought a casino in Richmond but the BIA rejected it in 2012. The tribe failed to demonstrate a connection to the site, which was about 78 miles from headquarters, the agency said at the time.

The tribe was restored to federal recognition in 1991. Typically, that means the tribe could engage in gaming on newly acquired lands under an exception in Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The Section 20 regulations that were finalized by the Bush administration in 2008 require newly recognized tribes to demonstrate a modern connection, a historical connection as well as a temporal connection to a proposed gaming site. To qualify for the exception, a land-into-trust application must be submitted within 25 years of recognition -- the Scotts Valley Band appears to be quickly running up against that deadline.

Read More on the Story:
Napa will decide whether to take stand on possible Solano casino (The Napa Valley Register 9/14)
Indian tribe reportedly looking to Solano, not Napa, for possible casino (The Napa Valley Register 9/11)

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