Colusa County supervisors oppose Yuba County casino
The Colusa County supervisors are unanimously against development of a casino in Yuba County.
The board adopted a resolution Tuesday opposing the state's approval of an operating compact for the Enterprise Rancheria, which has proposed building the latest Indian gaming hall near the amphitheater south of Marysville.
"The Board of Supervisors of Colusa County requests that the Legislature decline the Class III gaming compact that the governor has negotiated with the Enterprise Rancheria for the purpose of permitting that tribe to conduct Class III gaming on newly acquired lands in Yuba County..." the resolution states.
It goes on to request the governor veto any bill the Legislature passes "in order to spare the Colusa Indian Community and Colusa County from the severe economic and social harm that almost certainly would follow."
The board's hopes would appear, however, to rest largely with the state Legislature.
Gov. Jerry Brown already gave a nod to the project late last summer.
In a letter to the US secretary of the Interior, Brown wrote the thorough nature of the determination process, combined with the benefits for both the tribe and the region, convinced him the casino should get his approval.
"While I am reluctant to agree to the expansion of gaming on land currently ineligible for it, I concur in your determination in this case because of several unique considerations," Brown wrote.
The governor noted the casino would not be in a major metropolitan area, and the tribe had a historical connection with the land.
"I expect there will be few requests from other tribes that will present the same kind of exceptional circumstances to support a similar expansion of tribal gaming land," he concluded.
The tribe still needs approval from the federal government on the land deal and operations, and ultimately from the state on an operating compact. Ambar Mohammed, executive administrative assistant of the Colusa Indian Community Council, which operates Colusa Casino Resort, told the supervisors that another casino in the region would mean a loss of income for the local tribe, and a cut in mitigation funds that the tribe awards to the county and cities.
Mohammed said the loss could be as much as 50 to 60 percent.
"Under our gaming compact, with the state, the Colusa Indian Community contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to Colusa County for law enforcement, public safety, traffic infrastructure and other vital services," according to a statement released by the Community Council.
"If Enterprise is allowed to relocated to Yuba County, it will take most of our customers and those contributions will shrink drasticaly."
The mitigation funding replaces, in part, the property and sales taxes the casino does not have to pay.
The council went on to further state that the proposed casino is in violation of a promise the tribes made to develop gambling centers on existing reservation land or traditional territories.
She also noted that the voters in Yuba County rejected the casino proposal in an advisory ballot measure, and the Yuba County supervisors voted 3-2 against the idea as well.
The ballot measure was in 2005, and the board vote was taken when Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Loma Rica, was a sitting member.
He remains a vocal opponent of the casino, and is part of one of the lawsuits against the project.
Brown's previous action sets in motion approval for a gaming hall that would allow the Estom Yumeka Maidu to operate 2,000 slot machines and card games.
It is proposed for 40 acres in the county's sports and entertainment zone, between Highways 65 and 70 near the Sleep Train Amphitheatre.
A federal environmental impact statement for the project estimated it would produce 4,300 jobs and $230 million a year to the economy. Marysville will receive an estimated $250,000 annually from the tribe, while Yuba County would receive $5 million a year.
Two lawsuits, which have since been consolidated, have been filed to stop the project.
The Colusa tribe is part of those suits.
In addition to the unwanted competition from another casino — noting there are two in Oroville, one near Lincoln, one in Corning, one outside of Woodland and several others within a couple of hours' drive — opponents have noted other issues.
Those include problem gaming, drunken driving and increases in other crimes.
Moreover, opponents point out that money that is used to gamble is largely discretionary funds that would not be spent on other goods and products produced in the local economies.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Ben van der Meer contributed to this article.