PLACERVILLE - Despite more than 200 resident complaints and opposition from the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors, the Miwok Indian Tribe is proceeding with a plan to open a casino in Shingle Springs.
The board sent its unanimous disapproval to the federal government, claiming the casino would diminish the quality of life in the rural, residential area.
However, administrative assistant to the Miwok council Disck Moody said the tribe is simply exercising its rights under a 1934 federal law which allows Native Americans to petition the government for land that was stolen from them. The tribe recently sent its environmental documents to the Department of the Interior in order to expand its tribal land to include 118 acres across from the current reservation along Highway 50.
Moody said opponents to the casino are a small minority of the district.
"It's their right to protest (the casino) if they want to," Moody said. "But majority rules."
He added that both District 2 and 3 voted for Proposition 1A, which granted Native American tribes monopoly rights to operate slot machines and other Nevada-style games that are restricted in California.
Proposition 1A didn't pass in District 5, Moody claims, because of the threat to the Stateline casinos by the Miwok gaming project.
Kathy Farrell, executive director of the Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce, said the casinos are aware of the proposed Miwok casino and know it will affect the Stateline gaming community.
"It would be naive to think that a project of the scope that's being proposed would have no effect on the south shore of Lake Tahoe," Farrell said. "It really does force the issue of regional marketing."
Jim Rafferty, chairman of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority and Harvey's representative, said the Miwok project will impact the Stateline casinos in the long run, but he said the people who are going away for two to three days will continue to come to Tahoe.
"We have a natural scenic beauty advantage that we should continue to emphasize," Rafferty said. "It just makes a better destination."
Skip Sayre, director of marketing at Harrah's Lake Tahoe, said he's keeping a close eye on the Miwok casino and will analyze the impact within Harrah's long-term plans.
Sayre said although the proposed casino in Shingle Springs will have some impact on the Stateline gaming market, it cannot offer the same experience.
"There is really no other market that offers gaming that can offer what Lake Tahoe does as a destination," Sayre said.
Moody said the tribe expects to gain federal approval for the additional land within the next eight months and plans to break ground on the casino immediately following.
The Miwok Tribe is proposing to expand its reservation in order to build a casino on 118 acres of land in Shingle Springs along U.S. Highway 50.
It will be a $125 million, 250-room hotel and destination gaming resort, excluding roulette and craps tables.