Governor signs Mono casino compact

July 9, 2013 

Governor Edmund G. Brown has signed the 20-year North Fork Mono Rancheria/State compact (AB 277) that details revenue sharing from the tribe's proposed casino on a 305-acre site on Highway 99 near Madera.

The California State Senate passed AB 277 on June 27, 22 to 11, after the State Assembly passed the bill on May 2.

The US Interior Department, Bureau of Indian Affairs, must certify that the compact follows all federal rules that have to do with tribal gaming. That approval is expected within the next 40 to 60 days.

The state/tribe agreement provides the Madera County and the cities of Madera and Chowchilla more than $4 million annually for nine fire protection positions, five law enforcement positions, and housing and workforce development, including $250,000 to be used for economic development to benefit North Fork.

One time contributions include $2.5 million for water conservation efforts, $600,000 for roads, and $200,000 for parks and recreation.

According to Elaine Bethel-Fink, tribal chairperson, the compact delivers many benefits for Native Americans and the State of California.

"The compact puts our tribe on a solid path toward self-reliance and provides unprecedented funding for poorer non-gaming and small casino tribes across the state. The compact provides a much needed economic boost for one of the poorest regions of the state and nation by generating thousands of good paying jobs and pumping nearly a $100 million dollars per year into the local economy."

Bethel said the compact protects ecologically sensitive areas near the Sierra National Forest, Yosemite National Park, and Humboldt National Seashore.

The agreement will provide $3 to $5 million annually for 20 years to the Wiyot Tribe in Northern California, in exchange for the tribe not building a casino of their own in an environmentally sensitive area.

The compact ensures that funds from the project will go to local infrastructure, public safety, schools, parks, housing, economic development, job training, charities, and other essential services and programs," Bethel-Fink said.

The compact also includes an agreement between the state California and the Wiyot Tribe in Northern California. In March, the Wiyot Tribe surrendered the right to build a casino on its environmentally sensitive land in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds from the North Fork tribe's gambling profits.

The project is expected to provide 4,250 permanent, temporary construction and spin-off jobs. Annual payroll and benefits have been estimated between $50 and $60 million a year.

Due to pending litigation from opponents of the project, Mono tribe officials are hesitant to say when construction is expected to begin. The tribe earlier said the 2,000 slot machine casino would be built first with a 200-room hotel to be added at a later date.

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