Wiyot Casino Haul In Jeopardy



Preliminary artist's rendering. - COURTESY THE NORTH FORK RANCHERIA
  • courtesy the North Fork Rancheria
  • Preliminary artist's rendering.
Opponents to off-reservation casinos submitted enough signatures yesterday to qualify their initiative for the 2014 ballot — and if they succeed in their mission, our very own Wiyot Tribe will be out some significant winnings.

“Keep Vegas-Style Casinos Out of Neighborhoods, a project of Stand Up for California,” wants specifically to stop a 200-room, 2,000-slot hotel-casino proposed by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and for which a state-tribe gaming compact has been signed. The casino would be in Madera County — not on current North Fork Rancheria land, but on land about 35 miles west, off Route 99, that the Rancheria says is ancestral. The final step would be for the federal government to take the land into trust for the tribe.

According to The Fresno Bee, the "Stand Up" folks turned in more than 800,000 signatures yesterday. They worry, the Bee reports, that allowing a tribal casino on non-reservation land would set a precedent for finding a way around voter-approved Proposition 1-A, "which allows Indian gaming only on a tribe's originally restored lands." Among these opponents are some big tribes who fear the competition.

The tribe says its reservation, as is, isn't big enough for a casino. And another, way smaller tribe — the 800-member Wiyot Tribe — has agreed not to build a hotel-casino on environmentally sensitive Table Bluff, in Humboldt County, in exchange for a portion of winnings from North Fork's venture.

Read the Bee piece here. Some of our coverage explaining the Wiyot's involvement is here and here. And here's news on the latest Indian casino in the works by Station Casinos, the North Fork casino's Las Vegas-based developer. It's in Rohnert Park, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal says it "will be the largest Indian gaming destination in the Bay Area."

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