New $2 million flows into anti-casino effort

Two tribes have put $1 million each into the campaign to block another tribe from opening a casino-hotel off Highway 99 near Madera.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, based in Temecula, and the Table Mountain Rancheria, which operates a casino in Friant, made the contributions to oppose Proposition 48, according to financial disclosure reports at the secretary of state’s office.

Proposition 48 is a referendum on the casino-resort complex planned by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

In July, Gov. Brown approved and the Legislature ratified the compact that, among other things, allows the project to go forward. The measure includes some exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act.

The infusion of $2 million brings the total opposition money to about $18.4 million in two campaign committees, the secretary of state reported. Most of the funding has come from Table Mountain. The $2 million was reported Thursday.

Pechanga formed the new committee to oppose Proposition 48 the last week. The $2 million marks the first donations to the committee.

A no vote on the referendum means the current law will be overturned.

A yes vote means the law, AB 277 by Assemblyman Isidore Hall, D-Compton, will be ratified.

The establishment of the casino on a 300-acre site has been a contentious issue for years within the tribal community, in part because the proposed casino is some 40 miles distant from North Fork’s ancestral lands.

The most intense opposition thus far has come from Table Mountain. Of the money raised to block Proposition 48, some two thirds has come from Table Mountain. Supporters of Proposition 48 have raised nearly $$830,000.

Supporters of the Madera casino say they will proceed with the casino project, even if voters reject Proposition 48. In part, that’s because the project could be modified to avoid the requirement for state approval, and get approval instead from the National Indian Gaming Commission to open a Class II casino.


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