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Cloverdale Indian casino passes important hurdle

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May 13, 2009

SONOMA COUNTY, CA - In a press release issued Friday, the Cloverdale Rancheria of Pomo Indians announced that 79 acres it acquired next to Highway 101 and immediately southeast of the city limits had been deemed "restored lands" by the U.S. Department of Interior and therefore eligible for gaming. The added acreage is adjacent to 2.5 acres of their original tribal lands.

The tribe said the decision by the federal government is a "positive legal determination" and an important hurdle on the path to building the casino.

"Our dream is to gain economic self-sufficiency for our members. This is a big step in helping us to achieve that," Vickey Macias, administrator for the tribe.

Plans for the resort casino call for a main casino with 2,000 slot machines and 45 gaming tables, a 244-room hotel, a 984-seat convention center, a 1,300-seat entertainment center, and restaurant seating for 1,000.

There are many steps along the way before the casino can be built. The Cloverdale property must be approved as a reservation and transferred into trust by the federal government. The tribe also must negotiate a state gaming compact from the governor and get approval from the state legislature.

Currently the project is undergoing an environmental review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The draft environmental report is expected for public comment in July, according to Rob Muelrath, a spokesman for the tribe.

A BIA official had previously said the size of the casino may depend on the results of the environmental review, so the tribe has an alternative plan for a smaller 169,000 square foot casino with 1,270 slots and no hotel, convention or entertainment center.

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