Our View: Consistent casino policy needed
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in Northern California plans to build a "gaming and entertainment resort." It will include a casino boasting 2,000 slot machines, a hotel and spa and gift shops. The 1,850-member tribe expects its resort-casino to rake in more than $100 million a year.
The Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians plans to build a "multiuse resort" in Yuba County.
It, too, will feature a 2,000-slot casino, as well as a 170-room hotel. The 800-member tribe says its resort-casino will gross $280 million a year.
We have no problem with Indian gaming, which generates $7.5 billion a year for the state's 59 federally recognized tribes with gambling operations, and which provides each of the state's 50 nongaming tribes $1 million a year.
We are concerned, however, that the tribes propose to build their casinos many miles outside their reservations.
During the waning days of the most recent legislative session, Gov. Jerry Brown approved both the proposed North Fork and Enterprise casinos.
The Interior Department, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs, has given the Mono and Maidu casino projects tentative approval.
Now the tribes merely need an OK from the Legislature to break ground on their gambling venues.
But before lawmakers rubber-stamp the approvals by the governor and the Interior Department, they need to seriously consider what it will mean if Mono and Maidu are allowed to move forward.
Brown was mistaken when he assured Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that there would be few requests for off-reservation casinos from other of California's nongaming tribes.
This past spring, the tiny Manzanita Band of Mission Indians proposed to build a "casino facility," with the apparently standard 2,000 slot machines, in Calexico, some 50 miles from the tribe's reservation near the San Diego County town of Boulevard.
Given his approvals for off-reservation casinos for the Mono and Maidu tribes, it is hard to see how Brown can disapprove a casino for the Manzanita band, or any the tribe, that performs the requisite due diligence.
Rather than going case by case, the governor and Legislature should agree upon a fair and balanced state policy that applies to all interested tribes.