The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians scored a legal victory this month when a federal judge declined to delay procedures that would allow operation of the tribe’s proposed casino north of Madera.
Judge Anthony Ishii of the U.S. District Court in Fresno declined to issue a legal stay of a lawsuit filed by the North Fork tribe against the state in March last year. In that suit, the tribe contended the state failed to properly negotiate a new gaming compact after the original agreement was rejected by voters in 2014 through Proposition 48.
Ishii ruled in in November the state had to negotiate a new gaming compact following that proposition.
With no agreement reached, through what’s known as secretarial procedures issued July 29, the Mono tribe was effectively granted the ability to conduct class III gaming - typical casino games such as slot machines and blackjack - on its 305-acre parcel near Highway 99 and Avenue 19.
The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, one of the North Fork tribe’s rivals with its own casino, had pushed to stay the proceedings until other cases against the Mono gaming facility could finish.
But in his Aug. 10 ruling, Ishii noted there is “more than a fair possibility” that the Mono tribe would suffer damages if the stay was imposed, as it would further delay any plans to open and operate the casino as properly followed through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
“Our Tribe is delighted by the court’s ruling in response to one of the latest attempts to clog the courts and stifle legitimate competition,” said Maryann McGovran, Tribal Chairwoman of the North Fork Rancheria.
At least six lawsuits have been filed to challenge the legal foundations of the North Fork project, and Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, has introduced legislation in Congress that would block the casino by amending the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to prohibit California gaming when a compact is rejected by voters.