Controversial Proposed Casino Moves Forward

April 28, 2008 8:27:09 PM PDT
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a compact with the North Fork Rancheria for a proposed casino off of Highway 99 in Madera County. North Fork Rancheria Leaders applaud the compact believing a casino will usher in a new era for their people. Elaine Bethel-Fink is the tribal chairperson. She said, "The project offers the promise of economic vitality for the North Fork Rancheria and local community."

At a news conference on Monday, tribal leaders discussed the details. The agreement comes in a 20 year compact with the state. It allows up to 2,500 slot machines. A portion of the revenue will go the state. The first year alone could generate more than $25-million for California according to the governor's office.

The governor's offices also hails the agreement as environmentally sensitive. The agreement benefits Northern California's Wiyot Tribe. They have agreed not to build a casino in Humboldt Bay in exchange for some of the new casino's revenue.

Andrea Hoch is the legal affairs secretary for the governor. Hoch said, " North Fork will be paying the state its fair revenue contribution. In addition, it will be paying a small contribution to Wiyot for its agreement not to game on its environmentally sensitive area."

The proposed casino faces organized opposition, taking out ads , saying no to the resort. Neighbors fear more crime, increase traffic and pollution. Part of the controversy is the land is not Indian land. Other casino owners feel the deal isn't fair. Morris Reid is the Picayune Rancheria Tribal Leader. They own Chukchansi Casino off of Highway 4. Reid said, "Competition is great if you all follow the rules and you go by what the voters of California stress and that's gaming on Indian Lands. "

Construction won't be happening for quite some time. The federal government first needs to approve placing the land in Madera into trust. Then the compact must be ratified by the State Legislature. That process could take more than a year.


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