Station Casinos’ California tribal project gets federal nod

January 11, 2024 8:55 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • David McKee, CDC Gaming Reports
January 11, 2024 8:55 PM

The National Indian Gaming Commission on Thursday approved an agreement between the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and Station Casinos. Under the terms of the pact, Station and the Rancheria will collaborate on the 305-acre North Fork Mono Casino & Resort near Madera, California. The land was taken into trust by the federal government in 2013.

Story continues below

The project is slated to include a 100,000-square-foot casino with 2,000 slot machines and 40 table games, among other amenities. The facility is anticipated to generate 1,000 jobs in and of itself. Direct access from Highway 99 is promised, as the location sits alongside the highway.

The announcement is the culmination of a 20-year process of achieving the requisite approvals from Washington, D.C.

Commented former tribal Chairwoman Elaine Bethel-Fink, “We must acknowledge those tribal leaders and citizens — some no longer with us — who steered and shaped the project over the years. We could have whined and complained, cut corners, or given up; instead, we stuck to our principles and our faith in the law and in doing right, as is the North Fork way.”

The wheels began turning in earnest in 2011, when then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar affirmed the Mono Indians’ ancestral connection to the Madera area. The following year, the Rancheria negotiated a compact with California’s then-Gov. Jerry Brown. The compact was legislatively ratified in 2013 and submitted to the Interior Department for approval.

That submission set in motion an 11-year compact-to-casino procedure, which was consummated yesterday.

“No tribal gaming project in the history of our nation has received as much attention and scrutiny as North Fork,” commented tribal Treasurer Maryann McGovran.

“We are proud of our accomplishments but wish the project had been completed years ago,” McGovran continued. “The delays mainly result from competitor and opponent tactics and have been dubious and cost our Tribe and community dearly; nonetheless, we are pleased to be where we are today.”

The North Fork tribe numbers 2,500-plus members and marked the 50th anniversary of its federal recognition last year. Tribal Chairman Fred Beihn said in a prepared statement, “Our Tribe is grateful to have a partner [Station] so committed to the principles of tribal sovereignty and to bringing the full benefits of tribal gaming to our Tribe and community.”

“Helping the Tribe bring this exciting project to fruition fosters economic prosperity for the surrounding community and tribal members through the creation of permanent job opportunities,” said Station President Scott Kreeger.

Station has developed and managed several tribal casinos previously, including others in California. No timeline for construction of the North Fork casino was included in the announcement.