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Howard Stutz

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Indian tribe backed by Station Casinos loses referendum

6 Nov 2014

By Howard Stutz
A Station Casinos, Inc.-backed Indian tribe lost its California ballot referendum Tuesday, leaving a casino project on a site near Fresno in limbo.

Proposition 48 asked statewide voters to approve the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians’ casino project that was OK’d by lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown. Station Casinos would build and manage the casino.

The measure was defeated by roughly 60 percent of the voters.

The casino was proposed for part of a 305-acre site, but North Fork was accused of “reservation shopping” by rival tribes.

“This is a mandate for prudence in gaming policy,” said Cheryl Schmit, director of Stand Up California and proponent of the No on Prop. 48 campaign. “Californians showed tonight that they aren’t anti-gaming, but they don’t want unlimited gaming.”

The state has 60 casinos and produces one-quarter of the nation’s Indian gaming revenue, roughly $7 billion a year.

Rival tribes and their financial backers raised close to $14 million to fund the “No on 48” campaign, according to the California Secretary of State’s office. North Fork, Station Casinos and California’s Democratic Party raised almost $400,000 for the ‘Yes on 48’ effort.

In a statement, the North Fork tribe said it was outspent nearly 50-to-1 in the campaign with “cynical attack ads meant to cause confusion and concern.”

The tribe said it would “evaluate the various options at our disposal for moving forward.”

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