Tribal projects exempt from Environmental review.

On Wednesday, May 25, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newson signed legislation that would exempt two tribal gaming projects from review by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

State senator Melissa Hurtado introduces Senate Bill 900 co-authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas. The act ratified the game agreement between the state of California and the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tribe of Tachi Yokut and Promo Indian’s Middletown Rancheria Band. Previously, this game agreement was agreed upon in March.

“For decades, the Yokut Tachi Tribe has been a valuable partner in the Kings County Community,” Hurtado said in a press release. “The tribe has provided scholarships, job training, adult education programs, health assistance, social welfare, and other social services. I am glad that the Tachi Yokut Tribe will receive the recognition they deserve.”

California senator rolls out Senate Bill 900

Senate Bill 900 classifies the two agreements as non-project for CEQA purposes which normally requires the development to undergo a detailed environmental review that could invite public scrutiny.

The agreement is the culmination of a lengthy negotiation process between all parties and consideration of requirements under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent, technical guidance, and prior treaty approvals and procedures issued by the United States Department of Commerce.

Later, the agreement will support tribal investments in broad services, local jurisdictions, and non-profit and civic organizations for the improvement of fire and emergency medical services, law enforcement, public transport, education, and so on.

The Compacts also reflect the tribal commitment to support the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund and the Tribal Nation Grants Fund. This pushed the economic benefits of the game to extend throughout the tribal government of California.

Along with the decision, Leo Sisco as head of the Tachi Yokut tribe said, “On behalf of the Tachi Yokut Tribe, I would like to thank Governor Newson and Senator Hurtado for leading efforts to pass our tribal-nation gaming agreement.”

“We are pleased to continue to serve as a positive economic force in local communities while maintaining important opportunities and resources for our members. Most of it will be covered by our game industry.”

Casino industry operations in California as per the 1999 agreement

By signing the agreement, the two tribes co-accepted a “Tribe-State Class III Compact Game” under Indians Gaming Regulatory statutes. It was signed in 1999 by the tribes and the state and expands on existing agreements.

According to the 1999 agreement, Middletown Rancheria of Promo Indians currently operates the Twin Pine Casino and Hotel in Middletown. The business is equipped with 25,000 square feet of gaming space, more than 500 machine and table games offerings, a 59-room hotel, and dining and entertainment offerings.

Meanwhile, Tachi Yokut Tribe operates the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore. The tribe took over the bingo hall operations in 1994 and expanded its offering in 2005. In April of the same year, Tachi palace Casino announced various upgrades and renovations in several areas, including the gaming floor, and food court.

Betting proposal legalization dispute in California

Currently, California is in the middle of a November ballot dispute between a tribal coalition that supports legalizing sports betting at tribal casinos only. This proposal is eligible for election and has the initiator that will legalize online and mobile sports gambling in California.

Several betting industry operators such as DraftKings, BetMGM, FanDuel, Bally’s Interactive, and WynnBET are also supported by funding the proposal. This makes the County must verify the number of signatures involved in it.

The California Secretary of State has until June 30 to formally qualify for the submitted proposal.