Casino Near Yosemite Forest Killed

There will not be an Indian casino near Yosemite National Forest, a California appeals court has ruled.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal said Gov. Jerry Brown had no authority to concur with a federal decision to take land that had not been approved for gaming.

Stand Up for California sued to challenge Brown’s 2012 decision and challenge his authority to agree that the U.S. Interior Department to take land in Madera County for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for a class III casino.

The proposed gambling complex would have included 2,500 games, bars, restaurants, a 200-room hotel and a 4,500 space parking lot, roughly 35 miles from the tribe’s nearest ancestral land.

Brown signed a compact with the tribe to pave the way for the casino’s construction and the legislature ratified it in 2013.  But in 2014, voters rejected the compact as Proposition 48 and Brown retreated from the deal.

The land remained in trust but the compact was not ratified. Meanwhile, while federal litigation percolated over the casino, a set of procedures designed to function as an alternative to a state-approved compact was approved by the Secretary of Interior.

“The governor’s concurrence is invalid,” wrote Justice Bruce Smith.

“In my view, for reasons related to the lack of a state-approved compact or any future prospect of a state-approved compact for gambling on the land, any authority the governor might have had to concur in a decision of the secretary of Interior to take the land into trust for the purposes of gaming was inapplicable in this case,” said Smith.

Case: Stand Up for California v. State of California, No. F069302


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