By Dennis J. Whittlesey
The Graton Rancheria was federally recognized as an Indian tribe on December 27, 2000, by an act of Congress. Since then, the Tribe has been continuously pursuing development of a casino, but opponents have attacked the project with the ferocity and tenacity of a dog with a bone. This opposition has culminated in new litigation challenging the State of California’s ratification of a Class III Gaming Compact with Graton.
On May 21, the opponents to a Graton casino in Rohnert Park, California, filed a lawsuit in Sonoma County Superior Court challenging the Compact’s legality under state law and seeking to permanently enjoin the Governor and unnamed state officials from taking any actions implementing the Compact.
The new litigation seems well-crafted and certainly has to be dealt with in some manner by tribal attorneys. However, any delay it may create could be short-lived in light of the fact that the critical federal approvals are in hand, with the likely exception of an approved Tribal Gaming Ordinance.