Opposition vows to continue fighting after judge approves Madera County casino

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Clearing what could be the last hurdle a federal judge approved the construction of a proposed casino in Madera County. (KFSN)

Clearing what could be the last hurdle a federal judge approved the construction of a proposed casino in Madera County. In a 170 page decision US District Judge Beryl Howell decided to move forward with the project. In the summary, the North Fork Rancheria Casino can include 2,500 gaming machines, six bars, along with restaurants, a food court, and a 200 room hotel tower.

"We knew this ruling was coming, and we just didn't know exactly when," said Bobby Khan, Madera County Economic Development.

Khan said it's been a long process to get to this point since discussion of the project came about in 2004. He said this casino is a jackpot for jobs in the county.

"It could change it dramatically, cause you're looking at construction jobs when you start with the building of the casino. Then you're looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 to 1,500 permanent jobs when the casino is built."

The judge dismissed several arguments from opponents of the casino stating, "While the plaintiff's many concerns about the impending casino development are understandable, the law is not on their side."

Supervisor David Rogers said he is opposed to the casino, mentioning the statewide referendum in 2014 where 61-percent of voters rejected the casino project.

"What happened to the rights for the people to have their voice. What happened to the 10th amendment, states rights. You've got a federal judge telling the state of California what can and can't occur here."

"What type of will of the people is that-- it is not," said Pastor Randall Brannon, Madera Ministerial Association.

Pastor Brannon was one the plaintiff's in the case, he said the reservation gaming is at their forefront because it's against state law and they will continue to fight.

A statement from the North Fork Rancheria was issued stating, "After finally overcoming so many legal and political challenges, we are ready to start developing our project so that we can bring jobs and economic opportunity to our Tribal members, the community, and this region."

Opponents said they do plan to appeal.
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