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Federal Appeals Court to Hear Mono Casino Case

SAN FRANCISCO — The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit will hear oral arguments next month in the appeal currently blocking efforts by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a casino near Madera.

A court date has been set for Tuesday, February 11 at 9:30 a.m. in Courtroom 1 of the James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse in San Francisco.

The case is summarized on the court docket as: “Club One Casino, Inc. v. David Bernhardt – Club One Casino, Inc., appeals the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Department of the Interior in the Casino’s action challenging the issuance of Secretarial Procedures permitting the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to conduct tribal gaming.”

Called the “Enterprise Rancheria Concurrence Case,” the appeal before the California Supreme Court pits the state Attorney General’s office — representing Governor Gavin Newsom — against a coalition of private business and tribal gaming interests who continue to oppose the Mono’s plan to build a casino and 200-room resort hotel off Highway 99 just north of Madera.

The Tribe began their pursuit of the project in 2003 when they signed a development and management agreement with Station Casinos, who will oversee construction and manage the casino operations.

The proposed 305-acre development site is in unincorporated Madera County off Avenue 17 and Highway 99. The parcel is within the Tribe’s historic homelands.

A gaming compact between the Tribe and State of California was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 31, 2012 and approved by the state assembly May 2, 2013.

A separate lawsuit opposing the proposed casino was decided March 14, 2014 by a Madera County judge who ruled that the state process authorizing the casino project was constitutional.

And in January 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a petition in the Stand Up for California! v. U.S. Department of the Interior case that challenged the Tribe’s right to build the casino.

An Appeals Court ruling later this year in favor of the Tribe would likely pave the way for construction of the casino project to shift into gear.

Tribal leaders are optimistic their legal roadblocks will be removed this year.

“Once the Supreme Court rules in the Tribe’s favor, we will start all of the pre-construction and get the finance package together,” a process that could take between three and six months, Mono tribal council member Jacquie Davis Van Huss posted last year on the project’s Facebook page.

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