California Supreme Court clears way for North Fork Rancheria casino plans

Local News

NORTH FORK, California (KSEE/KGPE) – Nearly two decades in the making, the California Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for plans to build a casino in Madera County.

The Court ruled that former Gov. Jerry Brown “acted within his authority when he concurred in a pair of federal decisions in 2011 that led to the approval of two so-called ‘off-reservation’ tribal gaming projects in Madera and Yuba counties.”

The decision will allow plans for the North Fork Rancheria to move forward with the casino design, financing, and construction, the rancheria said in a press release.

The California Supreme Court said that the case was about “how California law applies to the delicate juncture of executive power, federalism, and tribal sovereignty.”

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.

North Fork Rancheria Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink

In 2003, the Tribe penned an agreement with Las Vegas-based Station Casinos to develop a casino. In 2004, the Tribe requested the federal government to take the proposed site near Madera in trust for gaming purposes.

The North Fork Rancheria said: “After a rigorous and lengthy federal review, the Assistant Secretary–Indian Affairs determined that gaming on the land would be in the best interest of the Tribe and not detrimental to the surrounding community and requested the governor’s concurrence to move forward.

On Aug. 30, 2012, in a letter to the Secretary of the Interior, Gov. Brown concurred in the determination.

The rancheria said opponents eventually challenged the governor’s authority to concur, arguing that California’s Constitution required legislative authorization.

In 2017, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to both projects after two appeals courts reached different conclusions — the decision of which was announced Monday.

While we firmly believe that only federal law controls the gaming eligibility of our trust lands. We are nonetheless delighted to have this long drawn out drama finally behind us — and eager to get going and bring jobs and economic opportunity to our people and community!

North Fork Rancheria Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink

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