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Voters To Decide On Off-Reservation Casino

North Fork Band of Mono Indians

Artist's rendering of the proposed North Fork Rancheria casino.

North Fork Band of Mono Indians

Proposition 48 asks Californians to approve an agreement between the North Fork Indian tribe and the state under which the tribe would build a casino on land it historically inhabited but is not on its current reservation. Charlie Banks-Altekruse with the Yes on 48 campaign says the deal has been in the works for 10 years and includes agreements with the federal and local governments. He scoffs at the notion that other tribes would be successful in doing the same thing.

“I say good luck to any tribe that wants to go through this process," he says. "It’s extremely difficult. Governor Brown cited the exceptional circumstances of our tribe and said he expected few tribes to qualify for the process.” 

The North Fork tribe's land is in the Sierra National Forest near Yosemite. The casino would be built about 40 miles away off highway 99. Cheryl Schmit is with Stand up for California, a gambling watchdog group that opposes Prop 48. She says the current agreement that allows tribal gaming in California clearly restricts most gaming to reservations.

“It was intended that these would be very limited exceptions for very exceptional situations," she says. "And simply because your land is off in a rural location is not an exceptional enough reason to go off reservation.” 

Both sides have some powerful backers. The “yes” side is supported by Las Vegas-based Station Casino, which would operate the North Fork facility. The anti-48 campaign has received donations from a tribe whose own casino would see more competition if the North Fork tribe is successful. A Wall Street investment firm has also donated money to the “no” Campaign.