California’s North Fork Rancheria and Station Casinos Team for Long-Awaited Madera Casino
More than two decades in the making, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is reaching the final pre-construction phase of its planned addition to the list of Tribal California casinos.
This week, the partnership between the Tribe and the Las Vegas-based Station Casinos was approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission.
North Fork Mono Casino and Resort, set for a 305-acre site just north of Madeira, California, was first proposed in 2003.
The North Fork Rancheria are one of the largest federally recognized tribes in California. However, that did not stop the project from facing numerous challenges over the years.
Delays included a ruling that former California Governor Jerry Brown did not have the authority to approve the federal plan for the casino location, and litigation from groups opposed to Native American gambling.
This will be Station Casinos’ third venture across the border from its Nevada casinos into California. Station, a subsidiary of Red Rock Resorts, operates various properties across the Las Vegas area, including the newly opened Durango Casino Resort.
“We are thrilled to announce the successful achievement of this pivotal milestone in advancing the North Fork Project. Station Casinos extends its heartfelt congratulations to The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians community on reaching this next stage,” said President of Station Casinos Scott Kreeger in a press release.
“We are excited to help the Tribe bring this exciting project to fruition, fostering economic prosperity for the surrounding community and tribal members through the creation of permanent job opportunities.”
Project Details and Economic Impact
The North Fork Mono Casino and Resort is to be located just east of Highway 99 and north of the Madera Municipal Airport. When complete, it will feature 2,000 slot and video gaming machines and 40 gaming tables, offering games like blackjack and pai gow, and multiple dining options. It will not include a sportsbook, as California sports betting remains illegal.
The 100,000-square-foot casino resort is expected to generate significant economic benefits, including 1,000 full-time jobs and tens of millions in revenue per year.
The casino is seen not only as a financial boon for the tribe, but also as a contribution to the local economy and community. Funds generated are planned to be invested in local schools, charities, and public safety.
The journey towards the realization of the casino has been fraught with legal battles, including opposition from the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians and a group known as “Stand Up for California.” However, the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and their casino project have prevailed in these cases.
The United States Department of the Interior took the land into trust for the tribe in 2013, and the recent approval of the management contract by a division within the department has made the deal official.
“Our Tribe has always prided itself on abiding by the spirit and letter of the law and being respectful partners with all levels of government,” said North Fork Rancheria Chairperson Fred Beihn.
“This decision validates our approach and has proven successful for our Tribe.”
Station Casinos’ Agreement
Station Casinos, traditionally focused on operations in Nevada, is expanding its reach by partnering with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. The company will handle the operation of the casino for an agreed-upon initial period of years, and then hand it over to the Tribe to operate fully after that.
Station has also agreed similar deals in the past with Thunder Valley Casino in Sacramento and Graton Casino Resort outside Santa Rosa, both lasting seven years.
“The North Fork Rancheria is delighted with the approval of the management contract with our development partner, Station Casinos. Our Tribe is grateful to have a partner so committed to the principles of Tribal sovereignty and to bringing the full benefits of tribal gaming to our Tribe and community,” Beihn said.