Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wiyot Still In For Gambling Win

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 4:47 PM

What's this? Gov. Brown is announcing the signing of a gaming compact with the Wiyot Tribe? When said compact was signed first by Gov. Schwarzenegger in April 2008, after a nine-year's-long slog toward said agreement, according to the tribe's announcement at the time on its website? (See our coverage from back then.)

What it is, is evidence of yet more slogging toward gambling-rewards heaven.

According to the 2008 compact, the Wiyot Tribe relinquishes any right to build a casino on its Humboldt Bay lands -- that it is, it agrees to not be a "gaming tribe." Instead, the 800-member Wiyot Tribe will be given some of the revenues generated by the 1,900-member North Fork Rancheria Tribe's proposed casino -- around $3-5 million a year might go to the Wiyot out of the estimated $100 million generated a year by the casino.

The North Fork Rancheria Tribe, in the Sierra foothills of Madera County, in its related compact to have land taken into trust by the federal government to build the casino upon, also agrees not to build gambling digs on other, environmentally sensitive lands. And, according to that tribe's website, it will be sharing gambling revenues not just with the Wiyot, but with other non-gaming tribes in the state.

The details appear to be much the same in today's newly re-signed compact, if what's written on the North Fork Rancheria's website is any indication. Brian Mead, Wiyot tribal administrator, when reached by phone today said he couldn't say anything about it without permission from the tribal council or chairman.

What's new, it seems, is that the latest governor has concurred with federal findings that the casino promises more benefits than ills to all involved, according to the North Fork Rancheria:

"The new compact replaces the earlier compact negotiated and signed by Governor Schwarzenegger ... . The compact also includes provisions to mitigate the potential
economic impacts of the North Fork project on the Chukchansi Indian Tribe."

More steps remain: The Department of Interior has to finish the process of taking the land into trust for the rancheria, and both the state legislature and the Secretary of the Interior have to ratify the new state tribal gaming compact.

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Heidi Walters

Heidi Walters worked as a staff writer at the North Coast Journal from 2005 to 2015.

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