Regional Council of Rural Counties - California Governor Jerry Brown Approves California’s First Off-Reservation Indian Casinos
September 7, 2012 - Governor Jerry Brown agreed late last week with federal authorities to allow two Native American tribes to build large casinos on sites outside their reservations. The two tribes reside in RCRC member counties. The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in Mariposa County and the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians in Butte County are the first California tribes allowed to operate casinos not located on their tribal lands.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Interior approved the request of the 1,800-member North Fork Rancheria and the 800-member Enterprise Rancheria to construct off-reservation casinos. North Fork wants to build a 2,500-slot, 200-room hotel near Madera. Enterprise proposes a 1,700-slot and 170-room hotel near Oroville.
Those opposed to granting tribes the ability to build gaming enterprises outside of their reservations include U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein and other tribes. They see this as leading to more future Indian casinos outside of their respective areas, as well as siting casinos closer to urban areas. Governor Brown, on the other hand, sees this as an economic opportunity for cities and counties, a boost for a soured state economy, and a job creator for the local communities.
Madera County Supervisors voted in January to back the North Fork Rancheria’s casino, which would be located in that county at Highway 99. According to the North Fork Rancheria, the project would create over 4,000 jobs -- 1,500 of which would be permanent. In addition, backers of the project say it will generate more than $100 million for the city and county of Madera over 20 years.
The federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 allows tribes to build casinos on reservations that existed prior to October 17, 1988 but not on land taken into trust after that date. The Secretary of Interior can grant exemptions, however, if the off-reservation site is deemed to be in the tribe’s best interest and doesn’t hurt the surrounding community. Enterprise’s Oroville site is roughly 50 miles from their reservation. North Fork’s Madera location is 40 miles from their land near Yosemite.
To view a copy of the compact, please visit http://gov.ca.gov/docs/Final_Compact_--__North_Fork.pdf.