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Opponents of off-reservation casino measure far outspent supporters

Opponents of off-reservation casino measure far outspent supporters
Elaine Bethel Fink, center, chairwoman of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, stands with tribe secretary Katrina Lewis, left, and treasurer Maryann McGovran in a field near Madera where they had supported construction of a casino. (Eric Paul Zamora / Fresno Bee Staff Photo)

Rival Native American casino interests spent $18 million last year to defeat Proposition 48, which would have given permission for two other tribes to build a new casino near Madera, just north of Fresno, according to records filed by the campaigns.

A separate committee that supported the ballot measure spent $631,000, much of it from the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians, which planned to build the new casino near Madera, and the Las Vegas giant Station Casinos Inc., a partner in the project.

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The measure was rejected by 61% of voters in the November election.

The campaign that defeated the measure on the November ballot was largely funded by the Table Mountain Rancheria, a Native American group that operates a casino 25 miles east of Madera, and Brigade Capital Management, a New York hedge fund invested in the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in nearby Coarsegold, Calif.

Those interests spent $15.7 million on a campaign that argued that allowing an off-reservation casino would set the stage for more Indian casinos closer to neighborhoods in cities in California.

Another group, including the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, formed a second committee that spent $2.3 million to oppose the ballot measure.

The measure would have given voter approval to a compact approved by the Legislature and governor granting the right to operate a casino with 2,000 slot machines to the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and Northern California's Wiyot Tribe.

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