Miwok Indians Look to Build Casino in Amador County

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Last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a gaming compact with the Ione Band of Miwok Indians. This is a huge milestone for the tribe as they have been looking to attempt to build their own casino in Amador County.

This compact will allow the tribe to build a casino that offers 1,200 slot machines, card tables, and off-track betting on horse races.

“I’m 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.

This has been 20 years in the making, and Gov. Newsom finally put the finishing touches on it. This will help restore some of the tribal lands that have over 750 members. The federal government took more than 220 acres of land this April. The tribe is in Plymouth, right next to highway 49.

Delays in Casino Operations

Dutschke said COVID-19 has really affected the tribes’ plan and has been disrupted. She has not been able to put a timeline on when the casino construction could begin. She also was not able to comment on the size of the casino or what they will offer.

In Northern California, Harrah’s, located in Ione, is owned by the Buena Vista Band of Me-Wuk Indians and opened last year. The Jackson Rancheria Tribe has operated their casino in Jackson. This could also have an impact on the Ione tribe with a crowded casino landscape.

Wilton Rancheria overcame a lawsuit filed against the tribe. It was an effort to stop the building of the casino they want to construct in Elk Grove. Rancheria was able to win the legal battle over the dispute.

There are already six tribal casinos operating in the Sacramento Area. This includes the Hard Rock Hotel, Casino Sacramento at Fire Station. Casino Sacramento opened last fall in Yuba County. Northern California is becoming packed with tribal casinos.

It took almost 10 years before California tribes were able to enter compacts with casinos. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act went into effect in 1998. This allowed tribes to build casinos on Indian territory.

Some tribes were forced to put land into trusts, which really hurt with trying to build a casino. Some tribes were in legal battles for 20 years to get the land back and then be able to build a casino.

California Casinos

California casinos have been fortunate during the coronavirus pandemic. They have been able to open back up in late May, and have been operating ever since.

Casinos then remained open when the second wave hit in Southern California as the tribal casinos do not have to listen to Gov. Newsom’s orders although cardrooms were trying to get them to shut down.

Tribal casinos will be able to remain open in difficult times even the pandemic is slowing building down. 1,200 slot machines are no small casinos, and with table games as well, the tribe will be just fine.

The California casino industry continues to grow yearly, and the Miwok Indian tribe will be able to find their spot in the market just fine. If they are allowed OTB and 1,200 slot machines, then that shows the trust Gov. Newsom has in the tribe.