The Tule River Indian Tribe notched another victory Tuesday in its effort to move its Eagle Mountain Casino in Northern California. The win came when the Tulare County Board of Supervisors signed-off on an accord with the tribe.
The tribal nation is looking to move the gaming property from its reservation to land that it owns in Porterville, Calif., 15 miles from the current location. In October, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the federal regulator overseeing tribal gaming entities, approved the move three years after Tule River originally asked for it.
The tribe is waiting for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, to consent to the move as well. Newsom has a year from the time of BIA’s announcement to render a decision of his own.
The Tribe has remained committed to ensuring the relocation project is a project that not only contributes to the success of the Tribe, but also to the surrounding community,” said Tule River Chairman Neil Peyron in a press release.
As part of the Tule River’s new pact with the Tulare County Board of Supervisors, the tribe must adhere to several environmental requests made by the board, and provide funding for some local infrastructure projects, reports The Sun.
Behind The Move
Last year, Tule River said one of its motivations for wanting to relocate the Eagle Mountain Casino is water restrictions its reservation is subject to. Those regulations make it practically impossible for the group to start new construction on tribal land.
At the Porterville site for the gaming property, Eagle Mountain will feature a 250-room hotel, a 1,700-seat entertainment venue, dining options, and 29,000 square of meeting and convention space in addition to gaming attractions.
In its present form, Eagle Mountain has over 1,200 slot machines, a poker room, and standard table games, according to its web site. Assuming the move happens, the current Eagle Mountain will be used as an education center and for tribal government offices while its restaurants will remain open.
The tribal gaming property, which has been open for two decades, employees 510 people and pays $1.3 million in state and local taxes per year, according to Tule River.
Don’t Take It For Granted
California is home to approximately 70 tribal casinos, the bulk of which are located in the central and northern parts of the state. It’s not uncommon for tribes to occasionally seek changes of venue. However, those requests aren’t always granted.
For example, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors last October voted against a plan by the Redding Rancheria Tribe to move the Win-River Casino.
Additionally, some communities in Northern California are fighting against gaming expansion. A recently passed congressional bill contains a provision barring new commercial or tribal gaming venues from opening in Sonoma County, a move widely hailed as good news by local politicians and residents.