The National Indian Gaming Commission is urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to confirm a decision allowing a California tribe to move forward with its casino project and end attempts from a local advocacy group to stop it.
In a brief submitted Monday, the NIGC told the Ninth Circuit the No Casino in Plymouth group has no legitimate claims against the Ione Band of Miwok Indians building its casino on 228 acres the federal government put in the tribe’s trust, near Plymouth, California, in Amador County.
READ MORE: The Best Indian Casinos in California 2023
“(The Department of the Interior has) already made a land status determination for the Plymouth parcels in the 2012 record of decision,” the NIGC said. “Thus, No Casino in Plymouth’s (claim) is essentially a challenge to the 2012 (record of decision). This claim fails because it relies on legal assertions already rejected by this court in Amador.”
This most recent appeal from No Casino in Plymouth, filed in September, is the latest in a long line of legal hurdles for the Ione Band — all of which it has cleared. No Casino in Plymouth wants the Ninth Circuit to reverse a May 2022 decision in which a lower court upheld a 2012 decision allowing the Ione Band to move forward with its casino project.
Legal Background for Ione Band Casino
Federally recognized in 1994, the Ione Band added the 228 acres to its reservation in 2012. A 2017 Ninth Circuit decision upheld the federal government’s decision to give the Ione Band those 228 acres.
In 2018, No Casino in Plymouth attempted to take its appeal to the Supreme Court. The group was rejected.
In April 2020, the Ione Band received final federal approval to build a casino on its reservation. And in August 2020, the tribe signed a gaming compact with California allowing for up to 1,200 slot machines, table games, and off-track horse betting.
Now, the Ninth Circuit is hearing the latest appeal from No Casino in Plymouth, which is arguing the lower court’s May 2022 ruling was a “non-binding, advisory opinion” and not a hard-lined law regarding a future casino in Amador County.
Judging off previous case law, the Ninth Circuit will likely side with the Ione Band.
Ione Band Casino Details
The Ione Band plans to build a $47 million casino with 1,200 slot machines and 40 table games. Those will sit on 120,000 square feet of gaming space. It will also have a restaurant, a sports bar, a buffet, and more. After the casino is complete, the tribe also plans to add a 250-room hotel and conference center, costing $22 million.
Any future Ione Band casino will be the third casino in Amador County. The other two are Harrah’s Northern California Casino and Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort. It would be the 67th Indian casino in California. (There is also a separate list of for Class II gaming casinos in the state.)
Plymouth is located 41 miles east of Sacramento.