Referendum “Proposition 48” is set to divide the state of California as people start to realize that a “yes” vote has far reaching implications beyond the immediate debate over whether the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians can build a casino on tribal land, approximately 38 miles from the tribe’s reservation.
It looks quite a simple yes or no debate.
Can the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians build a casino outside of their reservation?
This is essentially what the referendum known as “Proposition 48” looks like at a glance. But study it for a while. Take a step back and look at the bigger picture; you will start to see the word PRECEDENT leap out before your very eyes.
At the turn of the noughties, the state of California voted YES to allow Indian tribes to open casinos on Indian land, with the caveat being that the tribe and the Governor agree on a compact, and that compact is later rubber-stamped by the Legislator and the federal government.
Two years ago, California Governor Jerry Brown negotiated a compact with the North Fork Rancheria of the Mono Tribe that would allow them to acquire tribal land in nearby Madera County, so they could build a $200m casino. The Mono Tribe argued, quite successfully, that they needed to build in this spot, because they did not own land sufficiently large enough to cater for the new complex. Brown thumbs up was later followed by the same sort of salute from the state Legislature and the federal government.
Proposition 48 is the final act. It’s the YES or NO vote that will determine whether or not the North Fork Indians are about to set a new precedent. And that’s what it is. Let’s be very clear about this. If the move goes ahead, it will be the first time that a Californian tribe has been granted the rights to build a casino, on land that is not wholly contained within their reservation, since the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act was founded in 1988.
In an article written by George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times, he very clearly shows that not everyone is in favor of this move going ahead. The build – organized by Station Casinos Inc. – is one, which the nearby Table Mountain Rancheria is not in favor of, fearing competition to its Table Mountain Casino.
The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians is also against the move. Speaking to the LA Times, their chairman, Mark Macarro, was quoted as saying, “If this is successful you will see more of this happening, more leapfrogging over tribes into more populous regions. It’s important to stick to the promises we made. The people trusted us.”
If Proposition 48 does receive a YES vote then the tribe will have to make good its promise to pay the local government a one off payment of $16m, followed by annual payments of $10 million. The Wiyot Tribe would also receive $6 million per year, in exchange for not building a casino of their own.
Station Casinos are also set to profit with 30% of cash made allegedly heading into their coffers as operators of the new Madera Country property.
Watch this space.