Slot Machines

By Samantha Gallegos | 08/14/13 10:00 AM PST

An off-reservation tribal casino has been approved in California for the first time, but there’s more to come: Three others are contemplated across the state from northern California to nearly the Mexican border.

Weeks ago the Legislature approved the governor’s compact with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to begin constructing a 2,000-slot machine casino in Madera County, over 30 miles from tribe’s historic lands. The agreement culminated lengthy and complex negotiations, not only between the tribe and the government, but between the tribes themselves.

The dispute is far from over – an anti-casino group already plans to place a referendum before voters to block the project.

But the Madera casino is a first. Others are in the works for in Enterprise in Yuba County, Barstow in San Bernardino County and Calexico in Imperial County.

“There’s a healthy debate about whether casinos are good or bad for a community,” said David Tooley, Madera’s City Administrator. “But from an employment standpoint and from a revenue standpoint, I would have to say the City of Madera and Madera County would see an economic benefit.”

“In a city that has chronic unemployment, just the impact of the construction alone would be significant,” Tooley added.

The North Folks casino stems from an agreement – or compact – approved by the tribe and Gov. Jerry Brown, a document that was then ratified by both houses of the Legislature.

Although attention on the state’s gaming rules typically focus on the governor because of his compact authority, his power actually isn’t that sweeping, one critic of the Madero casino said.

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