North Fork Rancheria Casino Gets Key Approval After 20 Years

north fork

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and Station Casinos LLC have announced the approval of a Management Agreement by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), marking a significant milestone for the long-awaited North Fork Mono Casino & Resort.

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, a federally recognized Native American tribe with over 2,500 tribal citizens, has been planning this Californian casino project for nearly two decades. The recent federal approval concludes the multi-decade administrative approval process successfully navigated by the Tribe at the local, state, and federal levels.

The casino project, officially known as the ‘North Fork Mono Casino & Resort’, is set to be developed on a 305-acre parcel of land adjacent to Highway 99 north of the City of Madera, California!. The site was taken into trust for the benefit of the Tribe by the Department of the Interior in February 2013.

The resort will feature a 100,000-square-foot casino with over 2,000 slot and video poker machines and 40 table games, along with exciting dining and beverage options. The project is expected to foster economic prosperity for the surrounding community and tribal members through the creation of permanent job opportunities.

With the recent federal approval, the tribe aims to commence construction later in 2024. Once construction begins, it is estimated to take approximately 15-18 months to complete. The groundbreaking date and construction financing details are yet to be announced.

The National Indian Gaming Commission, the federal regulatory agency within the Department of the Interior that oversees gaming on Indian lands, has a primary mission to work within the framework created by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) for the regulation of gaming activities conducted by tribes on Indian lands. This approval by the NIGC is a crucial step forward for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, promoting tribal economic development, self-sufficiency, and strong tribal governments.

The journey to this point has been long and winding. Proposals for the Fresno tribal casino date back to 2003, with North Fork Rancheria winning federal approval in 2004 to move the land into a trust. In 2011, the Secretary of the Interior issued a two-part determination affirming the Tribe’s historical connection to the Madera Parcel and local community support for the project. This recent approval marks the beginning of a new chapter for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the local community.

The specific groundbreaking date and the terms of the construction finance are yet to be announced. The construction will be overseen by Station Casinos LLC, a Las Vegas-based entity. The casino will be owned and operated by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, with Station Casinos LLC’s assistance.

Upon completion, the North Fork Mono Casino & Resort will feature a 100,000-square-foot casino with over 2,000 slot and video poker machines.

California’s gambling laws permit certain types of gambling, including casinos on Indian land, the state lottery, and betting on horse races. The Gambling Control Act created a comprehensive scheme for statewide regulation of legal gambling.

Other casinos in the area

There are other casinos in the vicinity of the North Fork Mono Casino & Resort. The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino and Table Mountain Casino are located less than 40 miles east of the planned location of the North Fork Mono Casino & Resort. Additionally, the Club One Casino is also nearby. These casinos offer a variety of gaming options and amenities, providing a competitive landscape for the upcoming Mono Casino.

The Table Mountain Casino is the largest of the three, and also larger than the upcoming North Fork Rancheria Casino as it has 140,000 sqft of gaming space and 2,000 slots.

The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians has been planning the North Fork Mono Casino & Resort for nearly two decades. The journey to this point has been long and winding, with numerous legal challenges along the way.

Proposals for the Fresno tribal casino date back to 2003, with North Fork Rancheria winning federal approval in 2004 to move the land into a trust. In 2011, the Secretary of the Interior issued a two-part determination affirming the Tribe’s historical connection to the Madera Parcel and local community support for the project.

However, the project faced significant opposition, particularly from a group called Stand Up for California!, which has a lengthy history of opposing casino expansion in the state. They argued that then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to approve the project violated the results of a 2014 ballot initiative known as Proposition 48. This proposition was approved by 4.2 million California voters in that mid-term election year.

The key issue raised by the opponents was that the compact was negotiated before the land was taken into trust for the tribe. However, a Madera County judge ruled in March 2023 that Gov. Jerry Brown and the federal government acted properly when they approved the compact that allows North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build an “off-reservation” casino and hotel project.

The recent approval by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) marks the conclusion of the multi-decade administrative approval process successfully navigated by the Tribe at the local, state, and federal levels. This decision validates the Tribe’s approach and has proven successful for them.

In summary, the approval came now because the Tribe successfully navigated a complex administrative approval process and overcame significant legal challenges. The recent approval by the NIGC marks the end of this long journey and the beginning of a new chapter for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the local community.

Daniel Horvat

Daniel Horvat

Daniel is a writer for PlaySlots4RealMoney.com who specializes in gambling legislation, casino and game reviews. An avid slots player, Daniel has also worked for the operators in the past so he knows the business inside out, both from the player's and from the operator's perspective. Focused on bringing quality information to players since 2007, Daniel has reviewed hundreds of gambling sites and never shied away from writing a bad review in those cases where the brand was rogue. Prior to joining PlaySlots4RealMoney.com, Daniel has worked on several other sites as well as his own player-focused websites in the casino and sports niches. In addition to being involved with the casino industry, Daniel is a cryptocurrency enthusiast and former miner, which puts him in an excellent position to write about all things crypto-related. In his free time, Daniel likes to relax, read and take online courses. He spent quite some time in the greater Boston area as well as in London.

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