Shingle Springs Indian Casino project still a go
The California Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Proposition 5 should have no effect on the ambitious casino-hotel project at the Shingle Springs Rancheria near Placerville, according to the tribe’s spokesman.
“It doesn’t really impact our project at all,” said Dick Moody, the tribal chairman for the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. “It means a lot more to the actual gaming tribes than it does to us. We’re not gaming at the present time. When we are ready to do so, we still have to go ahead and negotiate a compact with Governor Davis.
“This in no way hinders our plans.”
It would seem that the Prop. 5 imbroglio does indeed have minimal impact on the Shingle Springs Miwok, at least for now. Plans are still a go for the project, which is to include a 325-room hotel with 100,000 square feet of casino floor space and six restaurants. The tribe has recently hired an architect and hopes to have the project completed by August 2000.
“The next two steps for us involve getting the property into trust and developing plans and sketches to show to the community,” Moody said. “We want local input into the basic design, so that it fits within the community, and the county. We don’t want any more arguing.”
As it stands now, the Shingle Springs casino would include Class II gaming only – bingo, cards and paramutual-type slot machines.
The Supreme Court’s 6-1 decision overturning Prop. 5, which received 63 percent of the vote last year, prevents tribal casinos from running “Las Vegas-style” casino games without legislative or gubernatorial input. These types of games would include craps, roulette, keno and direct-payout slot and poker machines.
“Prop. 5 provided a guideline that the government had to follow with all the tribes,” Moody said. “Now it’s back to negotiating compacts on an individual basis; which is fine. I would prefer set guidelines, however.
“I hope this thing can get back on the ballot in March,” he said. “If it takes a constitutional amendment, so be it.”
Many Indian tribes are currently gathering signatures to put such an amendment on the March 2000 ballot – which would most likely be a replay of the contentious $91.3 million campaign last fall. That battle turned out to be mainly between several tribes and the Nevada casino industry.
But Governor Davis’ office is currently scrambling toward some sort of a compromise, so that such an initiative is not necessary.
“Governor Davis voiced his commitment and support of the tribes when he took office, and we’re hoping that he honors that commitment,” said David Baron, the Director for Government Affairs for the Barona Band of Mission Indians near San Diego. “We are currently supporting a petition drive to seek another resolution on the March ballot. But if a compromise can be reached, that’s great.”
It is Baron’s contention that the Prop. 5 ruling impacts just about all tribal casinos in the state, but mostly the ones in the central district – including Palm Springs, Riverside and San Bernardino – which had been operating without a compact. Now, many of those casinos will have to shut down.
“We’re going into this with our eyes open,” Moody said of the Shingle Springs Rancheria project. “A lot can happen in a year. By then we’re hoping that this whole this is resolved.”
Currently, 52 families live on the Shingle Springs Rancheria, and the tribe operates its own library, church, fire department, tribal center and community center. It is one of 67 tribes that have applied for gaming compacts with the state of California.
CAN CUT HERE IF NEEDED
In 1996, the tribe announced plans to construct a temporary Class II casino on their land – a 160-care parcel that was deeded to the tribe by the federal government in 1920. Problems soon arose involving access. The Shingle Springs reservation is landlocked; that is, there is no direct access to and from U.S. Highway 50.
In order for patrons to access the casino, they would have to use a winding, one-lane road that runs through the Grassy Run subdivision, which consists of 73 homes on about 400 acres. The Grassy Run Homeowners Association mobilized to put a stop to the casino and was awarded a court injunction in December 1997, which ruled that the tribe could not use the subdivision’s access road for commercial purposes.
The tribe soon abandoned the temporary casino plan. But it has more recently acquired land on which to construct an access road to U.S. 50.
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