The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians have faced a long road when it comes to their casino dreams. The tribe is now facing yet another obstacle in their efforts to create a gaming venue in California. After a review process took some time to complete, the tribe was able to win both federal and state approvals to open a casino off-reservation in Madera County. However, opponents of the idea stated that Governor Jerry Brown did not have the authority to decide in the matter. Now, it seems the 5th District Court of Appeals is in agreement with those opposed to the plan and varying opinions by judges have now stalled the project.
Stand Up for California is the group opposed to the casino plans and one that stated the Governor had no authority to make the decision to allow the tribe to operate off-reservation. On Monday, the 5th District Court of Appeal saw three different judges providing three varying opinions on several topics including the land-into-trust applications as well as the state voter referendum process. Class III gaming compacts were also discussed.
The casino project is now in limbo after the tribe has faced several battles in over ten years including legal, regulatory and political issues. The North Fork Rancheria have tried to create a new casino based on the two-part determination provisions located within the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. If the casino is approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the law has a requirement that the governor of the state grants a ‘concurrence’.
Brown has done that, back in 2012, which was the first time such a decision took place in California. A Class III gaming compact was also signed by the tribe with the state that the Bureau of Indian Affairs allowed to move forward.
However, Stand Up for California was not having it and they decided to persuade voters of the state to vote against the compact when voting on the matter took place in 2014. The group had help from other tribes that offer casino gaming in the state. The decision by the voters helped the appeals court to make their ruling that Brown wasn’t an authority with the ability to make the decision he made.
Thereafter, the tribe was able to win approval by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to be able to provide Class III gaming options once a federal judge ruled that Brown was not negotiating in good faith.
For now, the tribe has the trust land yet they cannot use the land for Class III gaming even though they are in compliance with state and federal laws. Any appeals could move forward to the California Supreme Court or to the United States Supreme Court.