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Arnold M. Knightly

Station unit to buy land for tribal casino

5 February 2007

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- A subsidiary of Station Casinos has reached a settlement agreement to buy 305 acres in central California for development into an American Indian gaming and entertainment site.

Terms of the settlement, reached last week, were not released.

Station Casinos has a development and management agreement with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians for a casino that could open sometime in 2009.

"We're very, very pleased," tribal chairwoman Elaine Bethel-Fink said Friday. "We expect little bumps in the road while we're pursuing this project and this is exactly what this is. We are very pleased this is resolved."

Station Casinos declined to comment beyond its Friday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Las Vegas-based gaming company filed a lawsuit Jan. 8 asking a California Superior Court to enforce a written agreement between Station's wholly owned subsidiary, Fresno Land Acquisitions, and a private seller. Late last year, the seller tried to terminate the long-standing agreement to sell the land.

Station Casinos will own the land at first, and the tribe will have to clear many regulatory approvals before construction can begin on the casino. The tribe has to gain state and federal regulators' approval to move the land into a trust so it can buy the land from Station. The company will also have to secure a gaming compact with the state of California.

According to an agreement announced in March 2004 between Station and the tribe, the gaming company will arrange financing to develop and build the project. Any money advanced to the tribe by Station will be repaid partly from the tribe's gaming revenue. Station will also collect a management fee of 24 percent of the project's net income.

"This is a step forward in the tribe's dream of self-sufficiency and working with the community," tribal spokesman Charles Banks-Altekruse said. "This is just one more milestone in a long process that's been checked off."

Station now operates the Thunder Valley Casino in Placer County, Calif., and has development deals for two more Indian gaming sites in the state. The company is also working to develop another American Indian casino in Michigan, but legal challenges have slowed the project.

Station unit to buy land for tribal casino is republished from