In California, the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria has suspended construction on its new 140,000 sq ft Fire Mountain Casino as it awaits two federal decisions that will determine what type of gaming license the venue will receive.
According to a report from the Appeal-Democrat newspaper, the $186 million casino project near Yuba City is being financed by Florida developer Alan Ginsburg in partnership with Illinois businessman Gerald Forsythe and it wants a Class III license to be able to offer slots and table games such as poker and blackjack.
However, the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria is now waiting to see whether Judge Troy Nunley from the United States District Court For The Eastern District of California will uphold a September ruling that rejected a challenge brought by a pair of rival tribes. The Cachil DeHe Band Of Wintun Indians Of The Colusa Rancheria, which operates the Colusa Casino Resort, and the tribe behind the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, the United Auburn Indian Community, had asked that the new facility only be granted a Class II license for the operation of bingo-style games including some types of electronic and non-banked card games and filed an appeal to this decision in October.
In addition, the Oroville tribe is waiting on a judgment from the Department Of The Interior after California lawmakers failed to take action within 60 days on the compact it had previously agreed with the state.
“We’re committed to building something but we’re close enough to the junction point and there’s a big enough delta in what you’re going to spend to design and build it that we’re going to wait,” Charles Altakruse, spokesperson for the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria, told the newspaper.
Glenda Nelson, Chairperson for the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria, admitted to being frustrated at the decision to delay construction and explained that the tribe has been battling against well-funded opposition backed by several neighboring groups with casinos for more than 15 years.
“Enough is enough; I am so fed up with the delays,” Nelson told the newspaper.
Altakruse declared that the Fire Mountain Casino project had been reviewed and affirmed by two federal administrations, four secretaries of the Interior, six Bureau Of Indian Affairs assistant secretaries and two California governors. He stated that he believed opponents were causing delays by abusing the legal system to strategically overwhelm the courts with lawsuits, which had so far cost Yuba County and the city of Marysville around $20 million in lost public funding and community investments.
The Appeal-Democrat reported that the oppositions’ primary argument against the projected casino seems to be that the land being used is “off-reservation”, which means that it is not within the tribe’s aboriginal area. But, Nelson proclaimed that the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria lived along the Feather River watershed including down to the southern reaches of Yuba County and has had an office in Marysville and a medical clinic in Yuba City for about two decades.
“When they say we’re off-reservation, it is really offensive because we are not off-reservation or reservation shopping,” said Nelson.
The Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria received the land where the casino is to be built in 2012 as compensation for losing around 40 acres in the late-1960s due to flooding caused by the construction of the Oroville Dam and the creation of Lake Oroville.