An aerial view of Elk Grove, California, shows the area where the Wilton Rancheria plans to build a $400 million casino. The existing structures are a part of an outlet mall where construction is expected to resume along with the casino. Image: Google Earth
California | Casino Stalker | Land Acquisitions | Litigation

Wilton Rancheria won't comment on status of gaming compact talks



The leader of the Wilton Rancheria won't say whether the tribe is in negotiations for a Class III gaming compact with the state of California.

The compact is necessary if the tribe intends to offer slot machines, poker, blackjack and related games at its $400 million casino in the city of Elk Grove. But Chairman Raymond “Chucky” Hitchcock declined to comment on that issue when asked by Comstock's Magazine. He also wasn't able to say when the casino might open.

Still, Hitchcock remains fully committed to the project. He believes the casino will create a better future for his people, whose federal status was in limbo up until 2009.

“I feel like [this is] what I’m supposed to be doing right now,” Hitchcock told Comstock's “I can’t really fathom what that really means, it just feels like I’m doing the right thing.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the land-into-trust application on January 19, the last full day of the Obama administration. The 36-acre gaming site was then acquired in trust on February 10, according to letter sent to casino opponents as part of a lawsuit in federal court.

But between those dates, casino opponents -- including the secretive Stand Up For California group -- did little to advance their lawsuit, government attorneys said in a March 3 filing. Instead, they decided to fight the acquisition of the land through the Interior Board of Indian Appeals.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has put the lawsuit on hold while the IBIA determines whether it can resolve the matter, according to a March 6 order.

Additionally, casino opponents are suing the city of Elk Grove in state court in hopes of obtaining more records about the project. Cheryl Schmit of Stand Up For California told Comstock's that she is advising those plaintiffs, two of whom are a part of her lawsuit in federal court.

Read More on the Story:
Raising the Stakes (Comstock's Magazine 6/27)
The House Raises (Comstock's Magazine 6/27)
Anti-Casino Lawsuit Says Elk Grove Mayor Ly Suggested Solicitation of Funds For Son's Classroom From Wilton Rancheria (The Elk Grove News 6/22)
Activists file lawsuit against city over casino (The Elk Grove Citizen 6/21)

Federal Register Notices:
Final Environmental Impact Statement and a Revised Draft Conformity Determination for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 14, 2016)
Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 29, 2015)
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Wilton Rancheria Fee-to-Trust and Casino Project, Sacramento County, California (December 4, 2013)

Related Stories:
Wilton Rancheria accused of working too closely with city on casino (June 21, 2017)
Charles Banks-Altekruse: Stand up to bullying tactics of shady 'California' group (March 7, 2017)
Wilton Rancheria joins lawsuit as foes challenge casino decision (March 2, 2017)
Bureau of Indian Affairs confirms Wilton Rancheria casino site in trust (February 21, 2017)