Press Releases

Washington, DC – After years of conflict over the future of gaming in San Pablo, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today introduced legislation to resolve the dispute between local community leaders and the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians and prevent a major Nevada-style expansion of the existing casino. 

In the summer of 2004, the Lytton tribe proposed to transform the existing 70,000-square-foot Class II facility into a massive, 600,000-square-foot Class III casino with 5,000 slot machines.

Although a compact authorizing this expansion was not ratified by the State Legislature, and the Lytton tribe backed away from this proposal, there is nothing in current law to prevent the tribe from attempting to revive the proposal in the future. 

The legislation introduced today has the strong support of local officials who have fought expansion plans in the past, as well as the Lytton tribe. 

“This is a win-win,” Senator Feinstein said. “By effectively foreclosing the possibility of a major expansion of the Lytton’s San Pablo casino, this legislation ensures that a major Nevada-style casino will not be built in the Bay Area in the near future. 

It closes a loophole which opened the door for that to happen – without the appropriate federal oversight required for tribal casinos – in a community where opposition is deep and strong. 

I appreciate the efforts of the local community in helping to fashion a legislative solution that works for everyone involved. I especially want to thank Assemblywoman Loni Hancock for her leadership on this issue.” 

Assemblywoman Loni Hancock said: “Senator Feinstein’s legislation will put the debate over Casino San Pablo behind us and prevent the massive expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling in San Pablo.” 

In December 2000, the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act was passed into law, with an amendment that backdated the Lytton tribe’s acquisition of nine acres of land that comprises the Lytton’s casino and its adjacent parking lot to October 17, 1988. This allowed the tribe to circumvent the regular process under federal law that governs gaming on “newly acquired lands,” lands taken into trust after the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. 

Feinstein Legislation

The legislation that Senator Feinstein introduced today would: 

  • Strike this provision from federal law.
  • Prevent the Lytton Band from engaging in Class III gaming unless they complete the rigorous two-part federal determination process.  The tribe, however, would be allowed to continue to operate the Class II gaming in place today.
  • Prevent any expansion of the physical structure of the casino now or in the future. 

The two-part determination process would require the tribe to obtain the consent of the Governor of California and the Secretary of Interior, who must also consult with the local community and nearby tribes, before they could operate Class III gaming.  No tribe has successfully completed this two-part determination process in California. 

Senator Feinstein introduced similar legislation in the 108th and 109th Congresses, but these bills would have effectively required closure of the casino operations, until a point when and if the Lytton successfully completed the two-part determination process. 

This legislation, however, stalled.   The legislation introduced today breaks that stalemate and ensures that there won’t be a massive expansion of gaming in the Bay Area. 

Currently the Lytton tribe operates a Class II casino, offering low-stakes card games and electronic bingo. A Class III casino would offer Nevada-style gambling, including a large number of slot machines.