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Howard Stutz

Tribe with Station Casinos agreement gains OK for project

4 December 2012

A California Indian tribe that has a nearly decade-old management agreement for Station Casinos, Inc. to operate a proposed casino received federal approval late Friday to build the project on 305 acres near Fresno.

The bureau, through the U.S. Department of Interior, agreed to transfer the land acquired by the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians into a trust for the planned casino.

California Gov. Jerry Brown approved the casino project in September.

Station Casinos has had a management agreement in place with the tribe since 2003.

"This decision brings our tribe one step closer to realizing our generations-long dream of helping our people and our community," Tribal Chairwoman Elaine Bethel-Fink said in a statement.

The North Fork casino is expected to have 50 table games, 2,000 slot machines, and other amenities and will cost $200 million.

A schedule for development was not released.

The tribe, which was first recognized by the U.S. government in 1915, has 61 acres of reservation land in the Madera County town of North Fork. But tribal members say the site is too small and too remote for a casino.

The project would be Station Casinos' second current Indian gaming development in California.

The company is working with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria on the 535,000-square-foot Graton Resort & Casino adjacent to Rohnert Park, some 43 miles from San Francisco.

Construction on the casino began in June. With Station Casinos' help, the tribe secured $825 million needed to finance the project in August. The casino is expected to open late next year.

Station Casinos also owns 50 percent of MPM, which manages the Gun Lake Casino in Michigan on behalf of the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians.
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