Federal court ruling allows tribal gaming in Madera County

By Chandra Lye | Jul 23, 2018

FRESNO – A recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California will allow tribal gaming on an approximately 300-acre site in Madera County.

FRESNO – A recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California will allow tribal gaming on an approximately 300-acre site in Madera County.

Plaintiffs Club One Casino and The Deuce Lounge had brought an Administrative Procedures Act challenge against the Department of the Interior with regard to permitting the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians (North Fork) to conduct tribal gaming on the site. The plaintiffs questioned whether North Fork has jurisdiction over that piece of land.

Club One Casino operates out of Fresno while the Deuce Lounge operates in Goshen.

“Both Club One and The Deuce Lounge contend that their businesses will suffer if North Fork is permitted to conduct Class III gaming at the Madera Site,” the court order stated. “Both operate poker, baccarat, and blackjack games but neither is permitted to operate slot machines or banking card games where the player bets against the house.”

The case began in March 2005 when North Fork put in an application to have the Madera site “taken into trust for the purpose of operating a Class III gaming facility,” the court order states. In August 2012, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. made a compact allowing the site to be used for Class III gaming. However, the agreement became connected with Assembly Bill 277, which the governor signed on July 3, 2013. It was set to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, but ended up becoming a referendum in November. Sixty-one percent of voters rejected the ratification of the compact. 

North Fork requested new negotiations on Jan. 2, 2015, but the state turned them down saying the referendum proved any effort would be useless. North Fork filed a lawsuit, which ended in a court order for the state and North Fork to come to an agreement within 60 days. After the two parties were unable to come to agreement, a mediator stepped in and accepted the North Fork offer. 

“On July 29, 2016, the secretary (of Interior) issued Secretarial Procedures permitting the tribe to conduct Class III gaming without a tribal-state compact,” according to the court order. 

The plaintiffs in this case argued the courts never investigated whether North Fork had jurisdiction over the land.

Although both the plaintiffs and defendants applied for summary judgment, the court granted it to the defendants and closed the case. 

“The secretary’s issuance of Secretarial Procedures was not arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in accordance with law for any of the reasons identified by plaintiffs,” the order stated. 

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