An artist's rendering from more than a decade ago shows conceptual plans for the North Fork casino planned for Madera.
Written by Frank Lopez
The California Supreme Court has given the final nod to the North Fork Rancheria Hotel & Casino Resort, planned in Madera County along Highway 99.
The court ruled that former Gov. Jerry Brown acted within his authority when he concurred with federal decisions in 2011 that led to the approval of two “off reservation” tribal gaming projects in Madera and Yuba counties.
In the United Auburn Indian Community v. Newsom California Supreme court case, it was ruled that the governor has the right to concur.
Plans for the casino and hotel resort developed by the North Fork Mono Indian Tribe will now be able to move forward.
“We are thrilled that the Court has finally decided this case in our favor” said North Fork Rancheria Tribal Chair Elaine Bethel-Fink in a press release. “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 long-running legal case goes back about 10 years.
The North Fork Mono Indian Tribe has been working to build a casino for almost two decades.
The Tribe had an agreement with Las Vegas-based Station Casinos in 2003 to develop a casino, and in 2004 it requested the federal government take the proposed site near the City of Madera in trust for gaming purposes.
After federal review, the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs determined the project would be in the best of interest of the tribe and not detrimental to the surrounding community and requested Gov. Brown’s concurrence to move forward.
Brown concurred a year later in 2012.
The new casino, which will be adjacent to Highway 99 at Avenue 17, is planned to include 2,000 slot machines, 40 table games and a 200-room hotel.
“While we firmly believe that only federal law controls the gaming eligibility of our trust lands,” said Bethel-Fink, “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!”
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe with more than 2,200 tribal citizens and government offices in Madera County.