A Madera County casino compact that would pay millions of dollars into community programs was losing in a statewide vote Tuesday.
With 62.2% of precincts statewide reporting on the referendum, 60.1% of voters opposed the compact while 39.9% supported it.
Proposition 48, touted as a measure to keep Indian gaming on Indian land, was opposed principally by competing casinos, including Table Mountain Rancheria, which provided the lion’s share of $16 million for the No on 48 campaign. The campaign favoring the compact raised just more than $400,000.
“I feel good about the trend,” said David Rogers, the only Madera County supervisor opposed to the compact. “I am just waiting to hear the voice of the people … I’m waiting to see what California intends for its future.”
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Maryann McGovran, North Fork Mono tribal council vice chair, said she thought it was too early to predict the results.
“If anything, I think it shows how undecided Californians are and how clouded the opposition made the issue,” she said.
The compact, which was approved by the federal government, the governor and the state Legislature, would have allowed the North Fork Mono Rancheria Indians to build a $250 million casino and hotel project along Highway 99 near Avenue 17, north of Madera. The project’s site is 305 acres placed in trust for the tribe by the federal government.
Opponents were upbeat about the No on 48 campaign victory, but those supporting the compact said it will have to be reworked and that Tuesday’s election will not ultimately stop the casino. They say the No on 48 campaign was a delay tactic and that they have several routes to take, including possible legal action against the state for acting in bad faith.
After the state Legislature approved the compact last year, a signature campaign for a statewide referendum, led by Stand Up For California, obtained enough signatures to place the referendum on the ballot and nullify the compact until the election could take place.
Table Mountain and other tribes with casinos, including the Auburn Indian Community, the Pechanga tribe and Mooretown Rancheria were among those that opposed the compact because they said it didn’t comply with Proposition 1-A, which voters approved in 2000 and which promised to place Indian casinos on Indian land.
Opponents said the North Fork Mono Indians were reservation shopping by getting land put into trust on a major highway about 36 miles from their rancheria. The North Fork Mono said they had a history of time spent on the land because their tribe was nomadic.