The Tejon Indian Tribe has been allowed to continue with plans to establish a casino situated 30 minutes south of Bakersfield. The planned casino venue is set to be the heart of a $600-million hotel and casino resort which is set to establish 2,000+ regular jobs, as well as economic benefits for the area worth millions every year.
A few days ago, the US Department of the Interior finally agreed to place a 320-acre site in close proximity to the junction of highways 99 and 166 into federal trust. As a result, the governmental body will grant a Class III gaming compact that is set to allow the tribe and Hard Rock International, which is its operations partner, to host blackjack tables and slot machines.
The construction works are expected to take about 18 months to complete. However, after the confirmation of the US Department of the Interior’s decision, no further information about when the construction job would begin was unveiled. The delay has probably been linked to the fact that the 1,200-member Tejon Tribe waits to formally take over the property.
The decision to grant the Native American tribe the right to move forward with casino establishment plans is considered a great victory for the tribe after a years-long review process that has involved various actions by the Kern County Board of Supervisors, the state Legislature, and Governor Gavin Newsom. In a special news release, the tribe’s Chairman Octavio Escobedo III noted that the Tejon Tribe had now been given a homeland where its members could live and work together in pursuit of a safe economic environment.
Planned Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Construction to Start Soon
Originally, in January 2021, the US Department of the Interior concluded that the establishment of a casino venue at the site would serve the interest of the Tejon Tribe and its members without harming the surrounding community. Governor Newsom put his signature under a gaming compact with the tribe in June 2021 and after several minor adjustments were made, the gaming compact was officially ratified by the state Legislature on September 1st, 2021.
After the announcement was made, Kern County spokesperson Ally Soper noted that the casino project is expected to generate 1,000 construction jobs, as well as an annual payroll of almost $60 million and an estimated annual induced and indirect sales and compensation worth more than $360 million. She further explained that the construction works on the planned Hard Rock Hotel and Casino were expected to start soon, with the county now able to join larger tourism hubs that attract both community members and visitors with casino gambling services.
Apart from the 165,000-square-foot gaming floor hosting 3,000 slot machines, the complex is set to feature an 11-story, 400-room hotel, as well as an entertainment venue, a convention space, 13 restaurants and a spa-fitness center. The casino hotel resort would include a 22-acre RV park, a healthcare facility, a set of tribal administrative offices and tribal housing.
Under the provisions of an agreement that was finalized in 2019, the Native American nation will have to pay $218 million over a 20-year period to the county Government in order to provide fire, law enforcement and other services to the hotel and casino resort. The deal involves the establishment of 13 new sheriff’s department jobs, nine new county fire positions, as well as a problem gambling treatment program.