Gov. Jerry Brown must make a decision by the end of this month that could have wide-ranging implications for the future of tribal casinos in California.
Brown has until Aug. 31 to decide whether to let two state Indian tribes to open casinos miles from their current tribal land. If he approves the two projects, critics say, it could open the floodgates to additional casinos in more populated parts of the state.
The Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians both received permission from the federal government earlier this year. But Brown has the power to reverse that decision under laws that govern Indian gaming.
The Enterprise Rancheria owns a remote parcel just east of the Northern California town of Oroville, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. They want to open a casino along a state highway, about 50 miles from its tribal lands. The North Fork Tribe, which owns land near Yosemite National Park, wants to build a casino along California 99 near Madera, about 40 miles from its reservation.
The applications from both tribes have drawn heavy opposition from established tribal casino owners. The United Auburn Indian Community, which owns the Thunder Valley Casino located between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, has led the charge against the proposal. The Chukchansi and Colusa tribes, who say their casinos would be threatened by the North Fork proposal, are lobbying the administration against that plan.