Wilton Rancheria in California has reportedly prevailed in a federal lawsuit that could have scuppered its plan to build and operate a $500 million casino resort in southern Sacramento County.
According to a report from the Sacramento Business Journal newspaper, Monday saw Judge, Trevor McFadden, from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia grant the Wilton Rancheria a motion for summary judgment to uphold an earlier land-into-trust decision from the United States Department of the Interior. This move comes after years of legal wrangles and has now all but eliminated every one of remaining hurdles to the federally-recognized tribe’s plan to bring a casino to a 35.9-acre parcel of land just south of the small city of Elk Grove.
The newspaper reported that the legal action had initially been filed by a local anti-casino group known as Stand Up For California! over concerns that the entire land-into-trust process had been conducted improperly without the suitable amount of public participation or environmental reviews.
The Sacramento Business Journal reported that lower courts had previously thrown out many of the arguments made by Stand Up For California! while the new ruling from Judge McFadden means that the disputed parcel now qualifies as ‘Indian lands’ and can be used to host the envisioned tribal casino.
Raymond Hitchcock, Chairman for the Wilton Rancheria, reportedly told the newspaper that his tribe was ‘pretty excited about’ the ruling as it brings to a close ‘almost three years of litigation’ that had cost its members thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Hitchcock told the Sacramento Business Journal…
“This was a delay tactic that needed to be resolved. It’s really a shame that the tribe has spent so many resources fighting this frivolous lawsuit.”
According to Hitchcock, the Wilton Rancheria now hopes to be able to break ground on the planned California casino ‘imminently’ after finalizing plans and engaging with construction partners. He moreover proclaimed that the envisioned facility will take approximately 18 months to build and is to feature a hotel alongside multiple restaurants and a spa.
“We’ve pretty much cleared most of the hurdles.”