he Ione Band of Miwok Indians reached a major milestone in its attempt to build a casino in Amador County as the tribe signed a contract with Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The compact allows the tribe to build a gaming facility that offers off-track wagering on horse races, card tables and up to 1,200 slot machines, the Sacramento Business Journal reports.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing the opportunities that come to the tribe and our people as a result of these recent developments,” said tribal Chairperson Sara Dutschke.
Finalizing the compact has been almost 20 years in the making, Dutschke said, but restoring land to the tribe, which has more than 750 members, has been a process of more than a century.
“We’re excited to restore land and start to build a homeland for our people,” Dutschke said, “beyond the gaming aspects.”
The federal government took more than 220 acres of land into trust on the tribe’s behalf in April. The land is in Plymouth, adjacent to State Highway 49.
Dutschke said the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted many of the tribe’s plans, and she couldn’t give a timeline for when the casino construction might begin, nor could she comment on the size of the casino or its planned amenities.
It would be the third tribal casino in Amador County.
Harrah’s Northern California in Ione, owned by the Buena Vista Band of Me-Wuk Indians, opened last year, and the Jackson Rancheria Tribe has long operated its casino in Jackson.
Last fall the Wilton Rancheria overcame a suit filed against the tribe and its efforts to build a casino, and got one step closer to beginning construction on its planned gaming facility in Elk Grove. That’s in addition to the six tribal casinos currently operating in the Sacramento area, including the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain, which just opened in Yuba County last fall.
After the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which legalized tribal casinos nationally, went into effect in 1988, it took California 10 years to begin entering into compacts with tribes. Some tribes, especially those that must get land placed in trust to build a casino on, face a legal and administrative battle that can take 20 years or more, which is one of the reasons why so many tribes are now emerging from the other end of the process and entering into compacts.