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Enterprise Rancheria Ready to Construct Class II Casino

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The Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe, also known as Enterprise Rancheria, has announced its plans to construct a smaller-scale Class II gaming facility in Yuba County, California. This decision comes as a result of opposition from neighboring Indian tribes, legal challenges, and delays in the state legislature regarding the construction of a Class III facility. The facility will occupy an area of 105,750 square feet, which is approximately one-third of the originally intended size iplt20 match of the Class III casino, at 318,000 square feet. The Tribe has declared that it has obtained funding for the reduced project and is prepared to commence construction.

Enterprise Rancheria is situated near Oroville, which is in Butte County. However, they opted for the Yuba County location because Butte County already has a surplus of casinos. The Tribe’s request to designate the land as a federal trust for gaming purposes referenced its historical presence in an area encompassing both Butte and Yuba Counties. via 2002 and 2005, the Tribe secured the backing of the City of Marysville and Yuba County for their application by making commitments to share revenue via intergovernmental agreements.

Tribes in California are now required to establish local agreements to address the implications of Class III gaming compacts. However, they are not obligated to engage into such agreements for Class II facilities, as these do not necessitate a compact. The enforceability of those revenue-sharing agreements is contingent upon their interpretation with respect to their applicability to Class II gaming facilities. Due to the absence of explicit limitations to Class III gaming in the terms of those agreements, the Tribe will most likely be required to comply with the agreements for its reduced-size casino. The Yuba County agreement stipulates that payments will be made, starting at $800,000 and increasing to $5 million by the fifth year of operation.

On September 1, 2011, the Interior Secretary made a significant decision. They ruled that the Enterprise land met the requirements for gaming as a “off-reservation” gaming facility. This judgment is also known as a “two-part” determination, as outlined in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA). The Interior Secretary had to make two determinations: firstly, whether the gambling facility would benefit the Tribe and its inhabitants, and secondly, if gaming on the newly acquired properties would harm the surrounding community. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) mandates that the governor of the state where the gambling activities will take place must agree with the decision made by the Secretary of the Interior. California Governor Jerry Brown agreed with the Secretary’s decision, and on November 21, 2012, the area was designated as trust status for gaming.

At that juncture, the Tribe was granted permission to engage in Class II gambling on the land, however, Class III gaming would necessitate a Class III gaming agreement that must be signed by the California legislature and approved by the Interior Secretary. Governor Brown entered into a formal agreement with the tribe in August 2012, however, the California legislature did not take any action to officially approve it. The ratification process of the Enterprise was delayed due to the referendum that rejected agreements for the North Fork and Wiyot Tribes. This referendum was sponsored by Stand Up for California!, a watchdog group that opposes the practice of California Indian tribes engaging in “reservation shopping” and off-reservation gaming.

The Class III plan of Enterprise encountered opposition from anti-casino organizations and local Indian tribes who already provide Class III gambling in their nearby casinos. The Thunder Valley casino is operated by the United Auburn Indian Community, whereas Betinexchange the Colusa Casino Resort, located 39 miles away from the Enterprise site, is operated by the Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians of the Colusa Indian Community (“Colusa”). The Tribes, along with a group known as “Citizens for a Better Way,” filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior. The lawsuit claims that the Department’s decision in 2012 to approve the casino site for gaming purposes was problematic. The Tribes argue that the Department did not consult with neighboring tribes, violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and that the casino would harm the plaintiffs by negatively impacting the local gaming market.

In August 2014, Enterprise initiated a federal lawsuit against the State of California for its failure to negotiate in good faith, as mandated by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), after the state legislature did not ratify the compact. In March of this year, North Fork Rancheria initiated a comparable legal proceeding. California’s legislation that permits Indian gambling explicitly relinquishes the State’s Eleventh Amendment immunity to tribe lawsuits regarding the failure to establish compacts in accordance with IGRA. Consequently, these lawsuits will proceed.

Under the 2002 agreement with the City of Marysville, a sum of $100,000 was stipulated to be paid after the land is officially put into trust. Marysville asserts that the Tribe is currently obligated to make that payment, even though there is a continuing legal dispute regarding the acceptance of the trust. The Tribe has yet to make any payments, but, it has expressed its intention to fulfill its obligations to the City and County. Currently, the lawsuits filed by both the Citizens for a Better Way, et al., and the Enterprise against the State are awaiting a decision in federal court.

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