The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians have proposed to develop a casino on trust land that is close to the City of Madera but is facing strong opposition from the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians who filed yet another complaint against the proposed development on the 1st of this month. Station Casinos of Las Vegas are the financial backers for the Mono tribe.
The plaintiffs filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District in Sacramento stating that the Mono Madera which is the proposed casino site is not part of Indian land based on the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA). The complaint also states that the North Folk casino would impact the Chukchansi gaming facility and they would lose many of their patrons. Judge Anthony W. Ishii will hear the complaint.
This is the same judge who back in November 2016 ruled that California had to put together a new gaming compact with the North Fork Rancheria as the previous compact was rejected by voters after a statewide ballot initiative was completed. The initiative was managed by ‘Stand Up’ which is a self-proclaimed gaming watchdog and received financial support from a number of casinos including Table Mountain and Chukchansi.
Judge Ishii has asked Station Casinos and the state to send in a briefing as to why the proposed casino development should be permitted. Claudia Gonzales, the chairman of the Chukchansi Tribal stated that Station Casinos were trying to purchase the sovereignty of the tribe and that the Chukchansi will continue to fight in order to ensure that tribal sovereignty is retained by the tribe.
The Chukchansi filed its first lawsuit back in 2012 after Gov. Jerry Brown agreed with the Department of the Interior who had decided to take the Mono Madera parcel of land into trust for the North Fork Rancheria. A representative for the Mono tribe stated that as of now five lawsuits have been filed by Stand Up and Chukchansi tribe in federal and state courts to prevent or delay the North Fork casino proposal.
In a statement, Gonzales said “These legal actions are required because North Fork’s backers are ignoring existing law and the will of California’s voters who overwhelmingly rejected the plan just a few years ago. Judge Ishii’s order is a good indication that our concerns about the North Fork plan, which are shared by tribes throughout the state, are valid and of real concern to the court.
The North Fork Rancheria have generally preferred to remain relatively silent with their public response over the lawsuits but now Tribal chairperson Maryann McGovran has gone on record to say that the opposition from the Chukchansi tribe is mainly due to the fear of competition.