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State Senate to vote on Rohnert Park casino compact Monday

  • 10/18/2005: A1: [aerial view of Rohnert Park Station Casino land]
    9/15/2005: A6: Looking southwest, the site of the proposed Rohnert Park casino.
    PC: Looking southwest the newly proposed Rohnert Park casino site is marked by the plowed field at top with Home Depot to the right Wednesday September 14, 2005.

The state Senate is set to vote Monday on the governor's agreement with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that the tribe needs to start work on a $700 million casino next to Rohnert Park.

It would be the latest in a series of developments in the past month that have moved the tribe's controversial casino plans — in the works for nine years — to the verge of fruition.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the agreement, called a compact, on March 27. It needs two-thirds approval from both houses of the Legislature to move on to the federal level, the last governmental hurdle before construction can begin.

Political and Indian gambling experts suggested on Friday that the road is virtually clear for the tribe, which wants to open a casino with 3,000 slot machines near Highway 101 just west of the Scandia Family Fun Center.

Based on the speed at which the compact moved through legislative hearings this week, it seems certain to win lawmakers' approval, observers said.

"Something doesn't move along this fast unless the opposition has been dealt with," said Larry Gerston, a San Jose State University political scientist.

"These legislators are pretty good at counting noses," said Gerston, a public policy process expert. "The votes have been counted ahead of time."

Should it pass the Legislature, the compact goes to the federal Department of the Interior, which has 45 days to approve or reject it.

A rejection is doubtful, said Katherine Spilde, an associate professor at San Diego State University.

"We're 24 years into tribal gaming policymaking ... at this point sending in a compact that would violate (the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) is not likely," Spilde said.


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