Foes of a $250 million tribal casino-hotel north of Madera have qualified a referendum for the November 2014 ballot – a move that delays construction on the 305-acre site until voters decide the issue next year.
The proposed casino, a project of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, has been approved by state and federal regulators. The tribe’s proposed gaming operation, which is not located on their traditional tribal land, is contained in a compact that has been approved by Gov. Brown and ratified by the Legislature.
The referendum is just the latest measure for the critical November 2014 ballot
The referendum asks voters whether they want to uphold the North Fork compact or toss it. The referendum also applies to a related compact of the Wiyot Tribe, the secretary of state said, under which the tribe shares in the proceeds of the North Fork casino.
In a referendum, voters asked whether an existing law should be kept in place or thrown out.
Of an estimated $2 million raised to block the North Forks proposal, more than $1 million has come from the Table Mountain Rancheria in Fresno County, which operates a rival casino. Nearly $870,000 came from the Chukchansi Tribe, which operates the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino.
The money was used principally to pay for signature gathering to qualify the referendum. The backers seek a “no” vote, which means the compact would be rejected. A “yes” vote retains the current law. Other measures on the ballot include a multibillion-dollar borrowing for water projects and an initiative to give the state insurance commissioner the power to regulate health insurers.
The North Forks casino would generate an estimated $50 million to $100 million annually in revenue.