On Monday, the California Supreme Court decided in favor of the planned North Fork Rancheria Hotel & Casino Resort, clearing the way for plans to build a casino in Madera county.
According to its decision in the United Auburn Indian Community v. Newsom California Supreme Court Case, former Governor Jerry Brown acted within his authority in concurring with the federal government’s 2011 decision that led to the approval of the two “off-reservation” tribal gaming projects in Madera and Yuba counties.
Said North Fork Rancheria Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink in a press release:
“We are thrilled that the Court has finally decided this case in our favor. Our tribal citizens and local community have been denied the advantages of tribal gaming – billions of dollars in economic benefits and thousands of jobs – for far too long.”
The proposed Madera casino will be adjacent to Highway 99 at Avenue 17. It will have 2,000 slot machines, 40 gaming tables, and a hotel that is expected to have 200 rooms. It will be operated by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, a federally recognized Native American tribe with more than 2,200 tribal citizens and has government offices in Madera county.
Opponents Challenged Governor’s Concurrence
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians of California have been working to build a casino for almost twenty years now. In 2003, the Tribe signed an agreement with the Las Vegas-based Station Casinos to build a casino and the following year, they requested the federal government to take the proposed site near Madera in trust for gaming purposes.
After a federal review, the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs determined that gaming on the land would be of the best interest of of the tribe and not detrimental to the surrounding communities. The federal office then requested Governor Jerry Brown to concur, which he did in 2012.
But opponents challenged the governor’s concurrence, arguing that California’s Constitution required legislative authorization. In 2017, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenges for both projects after two appeals court arrived at different conclusions.