The 22-11 vote, which split members of both parties, will allow the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to build a new casino with 2,000 slot machines on a 300-acre parcel just north of Madera in the Central Valley that was once slated to be a NASCAR track.
The deal was made possible through a rare federal approval process that allowed the tribe to build on land it has just recently acquired. Federal law stipulates that typically casinos can be build only on lands recognized as belonging to tribes before 1988, the year the federal government officially sanctioned tribal gambling.
The exception made for North Fork angered other neighboring and large casino-owning tribes around the state who said the North Fork were “reservation shopping.” The new location’s proximity to a major state highway and the city of Madera also touched off concerns about the encroachment of Indian casinos into urban areas.
Previous coverage here.