Tribal government gaming has proven to be one of the few economic development tools capable of raising Indian tribes out of generations of poverty for two reasons:
Firstly, tribes are often located in remote, rural areas with few development opportunities. Secondly, tribes have been unable to obtain development funding from banks or other investors because their trust land cannot be used as collateral for such investments. In some instances, however, the popularity of tribal gaming can overcome these historical impediments to tribal economic development by boosting developer confidence enough that they are willing to invest without collateral.
For these reasons, the Enterprise Rancheria has decided that building and operating a gaming facility is the most feasible way to engage in economic development and fulfill its sovereign responsibilities to its tribal members. The Enterprise Rancheria has reached an agreement with a developer to build and operate a gaming facility on 40-acres of land in Yuba County. Currently, the Tribe is entering the final stages of a very lengthy and rigorous approval process for its proposed development as follows:
- The Secretary of the Interior must accept the 40-acre parcel into trust for the benefit of the Tribe under the Indian Reorganization Act and determine the land eligible for gaming under the two-part determination process set forth in Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
- Before making his determinations, the Secretary of the Interior, acting through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, must complete an environmental impact statement (“EIS”) under the National Environmental Policy Act. The draft EIS was released for public comment in April 2008. Publication of the final EIS is expected in 2009.
In order to engage in class III gaming, the Tribe must negotiate a compact with the Governor’s office. The compact must then be ratified by the Legislature and approved by the Secretary of the Interior.
Finally, the National Indian Gaming Commission must approve the Tribe’s management contract with Yuba County Entertainment, LLP.