Station gets another Calif.
tribal contract

Mar 9, 2004 6:38 AM

Basking in the success of its Thunder Valley Casino deal, Station Casinos has entered into casino development and management agreements with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in central California.

The deal calls for Station to assist the tribe in developing and operating a gaming and entertainment project to be located in Madera County. Station has already secured for the benefit of the tribe two parcels of land located on Highway 99 north of the city of Madera.

Madera is about 25 miles north of Fresno, and 130 miles east of San Jose.

In order for the project to come about, the tribe must negotiate a compact with the state of California, and the management agreement must be approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

"We are pleased that the North Fork Tribe has given us the opportunity to assist them with their economic development project," said Frank Fertitta III, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Station Casinos, Inc. "Without a doubt, this partnership demonstrates the growing strength of our tribal gaming management franchise."

That franchise includes managing the wildly successful Thunder Valley Casino owned by the United Auburn Indian Community near Sacramento, which reportedly earns nearly $300 million annually. Station’s management fee is about 24 percent of the cash flow.

Station has also entered into development and management agreements with the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria for a casino in Sonoma County, California, the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria for a facility in Chico, California and the Gun Lake Band of Pottawatomi Indians for a facility in Wayland Township, Michigan.

Development of the Madera gaming and entertainment project is subject to governmental and regulatory approvals. In addition to negotiating a state compact, the United States Department of the Interior must accept the land into trust on behalf of the Tribe.

"We are excited about our partnership with Station Casinos and look forward to beginning the land in trust and compacting process that will set the tribe on the path towards economic self-sufficiency," said Elaine Bethel Fink, chairwoman, North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

In addition to acquiring the land, Station Casinos has agreed to arrange the financing for the ongoing development costs and construction of the project. Although no firm construction budget has been established, Station expects the total cost of the development and construction of the project will be less than $225 million.

Initial plans call for a hotel, casino and entertainment facilities that will include 2,000 slot machines and 70 table games.

Funds advanced by Station Casinos are expected to be repaid from the proceeds of the project financing or from the Tribe’s gaming revenues. The management agreement has a term of seven years and provides for a management fee of 24% of the project’s net income.