Point Molate in Richmond, California. Photo: felixsargent

Guidiville Band off-reservation casino officially dead with settlement

The Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians has officially dropped plans for an off-reservation casino in the Bay Area of California.

In a lawsuit that sought $750 million in damages, the tribe accused the city of Richmond of going back on a deal to host the controversial project at Point Molate. A settlement approved by a federal judge on Thursday ends the dispute.

"Under the judgment, the city will pay no money damages to plaintiffs, no casino will be built at Point Molate, and plaintiffs’ claims will be dismissed with prejudice," officials in Richmond said in a statement.

The settlement might come at a small cost for the Trump administration, though. After giving "late notice" to appear at a hearing on Monday via telephone, according to minutes from the proceeding, an attorney from the Department of Justice didn't participate at all.

A federal judge has issued an order to show cause to the Department of Justice after a government attorney failed to participate in a previously scheduled proceeding.

"Counsel filed a request to appear by telephone the business day prior to the case management conference and made no contingency plan for appearance in the absence of an order granting that untimely request," Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers wrote on Thursday.

Gonzalez Rogers is giving the Trump administration until April 20 to explain why attorney Reuben Schifman didn't participate or face a $200 fine, according to the order to show cause.

The tribe named the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs as defendants in the lawsuit. At issue was whether Point Molate could be used for a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Though the law bars gaming on lands acquired after 1988, there is an exception for tribe that were restored to federal recognition. The Guidiville Band falls into that category, having regained its status in 1992.

The BIA, however, determined that the tribe failed to demonstrate historical and modern ties to Point Molate, which is more than 100 miles from tribal headquarters. That decision was made in 2011, during the Obama administration.

The land issue, though, was never completely resolved. While the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made decision in the case last August, it was only about tribal-city dispute, which has now been resolved by the settlement.

“We are pleased that we were able to resolve this important litigation matter,” attorney Alexis Amezcua of the Morrison & Foerster firm said in a press release on Thursday. “This paves the way for Point Molate to be developed with community input, in a way that best serves city of Richmond residents.”

Point Molate was seen as a highly attractive location because of its proximity to San Francisco, Oakland and other population centers in the Bay Area. The closest Class II gaming facility is the San Pablo Lytton Casino, owned by the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians. The closest Class III facility is the Graton Casino, owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Like the Guidiville Band, both the Lytton Band and the Graton Rancheria recently regained federal recognition.

Read More on the Story:
Judge’s ruling ends tribe’s legal fight to build casino at Point Molate in Richmond (The San Francisco Chronicle April 12, 2018)
Judge upholds Richmond’s rejection of casino project at Point Molate (Bay Area News Group April 12, 2018)
Point Molate housing plan moving forward after judge’s ruling (The Richmond Standard April 12, 2018)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Guidiville Band and gaming partner ordered to pay $1.9M in fees (August 20, 2015)
Guidiville Band loses ruling in dispute over failed gaming project (10/06)
Editorial: Deny another off-reservation casino bid in California (09/08)
Echo Hawk issues casino decisions for three tribes in California (09/02)