In the best of circumstances, developing an Indian Gaming facility is a complex, multi-year process involving multiple private and public agencies on the local, state and federal levels. The process is made even more complicated if land must be taken into trust as part of the development.
Because of the extensive legal and administrative hurdles and oversights involved in planning, negotiating and building an Indian gaming facility, there are no legal “loopholes” in the process. And whether it is to construct our Tribal Hall, our housing or for economic development, the North Fork Rancheria "responsible development" approach has always been and will always remain constructive, transparent, and respectful.
Already nearly a decade into planning, the Tribe must complete a few remaining approval steps in its efforts to build a destination entertainment and gaming resort, including ratification of the state-tribal gaming compactand having its management contract approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC).
Once these various steps are completed, the Tribe can break ground and begin building the facility which could take 18 months or longer.
North Fork Rancheria Tribal Gaming Milestones
1993: North Fork Rancheria Tribal Council formed.
1999: Tribal Council begins to consider option of developing a casino and to evaluate potential development partners.
Mar. 2004: Tribe announces economic development plan for a gaming and entertainment resort and the selection of Station Casinos, Inc. to build a gaming resort facility just north of the City of Madera on Highway 99.
2004: Fee to Trust Application submitted to the BIA for Madera ancestral land.
Aug. 2004: Tribe voluntarily negotiates and enters into comprehensive Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to mitigate impacts of the proposed project. Madera Co. Board of Supervisors holds public meetings around proposed MOU and subsequently unanimously approves MOU.
Nov. 2004: BIA conducts public scoping hearing to gather Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) input and provides an extended period for the public to submit written scoping comments.
Aug. 2005: Madera Co. Board of Supervisors votes 4-1 for resolution endorsing the proposed project.
Aug. 2010: Final EIS published.
Aug. 2011: Affirmative "two-part" determination published by DOI.
Aug. 2012: State-Tribal Gaming Compact
Aug. 2012: Gubernatorial "concurrence" to DOI "two-part" determination.
Tribal Gaming Background
Gaming has been a part of the American Indian culture for hundreds of years. Tribes have had games of chance such as ring and pole games, hand games, snow snake games and lacrosse. They regulated the games themselves without interference. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, some tribes in Florida and California started high stakes bingo that netted large amounts of money. The states tried to close the bingo games and the tribes sued them in federal court. In 1986, in California v. Cabazon Band, the Supreme Court ruled that if state law regulated but did not prohibit a particular form of gaming, then tribes could offer those games on their tribal lands free from state regulation and control.
In response to the Cabazon decision, Congress enacted the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) two years later on October 17, 1988. IGRA is unique in terms of federal Indian legislation in that it provides states an important role in regulating Indian gaming under the negotiated terms of a tribal-state gaming compact. Some say this provision erodes the sovereignty of tribes in that it allows states to have some control over tribal activities. IGRA requires states to negotiate gaming compacts "in good faith" with the requesting tribe and sets forth time restraints on states to act.
Once built, Indian gaming is among the most heavily regulated industries in the United States. Tribal government gaming is regulated on three separate and distinct levels, in contrast to the single level of regulation for commercial gaming. The first level of regulation comes from the tribes themselves. Under the Tribal-State compacts, tribes are required to establish a regulatory body (tribal regulators or commissions) to keep operations in compliance with tribal ordinances which in most cases are required to conform to state or local laws. The second level of regulation is performed by the California Gaming Control Commission and the California Gambling Control Division. These State agencies regulate the areas that have been negotiated with the tribes in the Tribal-State compacts. The third level or regulation is performed by the NNIGC. The NIGC is the federal agency responsible for regulation and oversight of Indian gaming under IGRA. Other oversight entities include the federal government, the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In 2004, Tribal members spent $228 million to ensure adequate regulation of gambling operations at both the state and federal levels.
Source: Gaming in Indian Country, C.L. Henson, American Studies On Line, Posted 21 November, 2005 [as edited]