2014 ballot to include referendum on Highway 99 casino near Madera
California voters will weigh in next year on whether an Indian tribe from the mountains near Yosemite should be allowed to operate a casino along busy Highway 99.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified a referendum for the November 2014 ballot that could overturn a gambling compact allowing the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians to open a casino just outside of Madera. The location has been a source of controversy because opponents claim it is “off reservation” for the tribal members who live more than 35 miles away.
Opposition to the North Fork compact approved by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature has come largely from competing casinos and their financial backers. Supporters of the North Fork casino say it will bring jobs and economic development to a needy part of the state. The project is backed by Station Casinos, based in Nevada.
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The casino referendum becomes the fourth measure to qualify for next year’s ballot. In February 2008, voters upheld four renegotiated tribal casino pacts following a campaign in which both sides burned through more than $200 million.
– Laurel Rosenhall