Federal judge dismisses case against Wilton Rancheria casino, appeal possible
In a ruling released yesterday in federal district court in Washington DC, Judge Trevor McFadden dismissed the lawsuit filed by casino watchdog group Stand Up For California against the Wilton Rancheria. The lawsuit filed by SUFC sought to reverse the January 2017 decision that allowed the 36-acre parcel on Elk Grove's south side to be placed into federal trust for the tribe.
Placing the land into federal trust allows the Wilton Rancheria to pursue financing and construction and development of their proposed $400 million casino resort. SUFC had contended that the land was placed into federal trust in the waning hours of the Barack Obama administration in violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.
Earlier, McFadden had ruled in favor of the Wilton Rancheria but allowed SUFC to file cross-motions, primarily based on the environmental approval process. In his ruling, McFadden found the federal environmental process had been followed, denied the motions, and was dismissed.
In a statement released last night, Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond "Chuckie" Hitchcock praised McFadden's ruling.
“We are gratified by the judge’s ruling to decisively reject dishonest arguments put forth by well-funded special interest groups that have tried at every turn to stop our project,” Hitchcock said.
The City of Elk Grove has not released a statement regarding the development.
Although SUFC has exhausted litigation at the federal district level, their executive director Cheryl Schmitt in the past, has implied that if they lose, an appeal would be filed, in this case, to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Schmitt did not respond to an email request seeking comment at the time of posting this story.
The site of the proposed casino is on 36-acres that is adjacent to the site that was to be the home of the now-demolished Outlet Collection of Elk Grove shopping center. The land was purchased for the Wilton Rancheria from Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns the adjacent empty parcel by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming.
Although Boyd Gaming purchased the property, they will only manage resort once it has built after they have backed out of financing the $400 million project. The new financier has not been identified.