California signs $600m casino deal with Tejon Indian Tribe

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City

Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Atlantic City

California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has signed off on the US Department of Interior to grant the Tejon Indian Tribe permission to put 320 acres of land in trust for the purpose of setting up a high-standard gaming facility, allowing the Tribe to begin construction on its $600 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Bakersfield.

This would be the first time in over 150 years that it has had its own sovereign territory. The government will also spell forth the conditions of the tribe’s gaming operations on those lands, 10 years after it has been granted federal recognition.

The Tejon stated in June 2019 that it had entered into an improvement and innovation agreement with Hard Rock International for a $600 million casino resort located south of Bakersfield.

The Chair of the Tejon Tribe, Octavio Escobedo III, stated in a news release that Hard Rock, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, had “stood shoulder-to-shoulder with us to help make our dream of restoring our land base a close-at-hand reality.”

The Tribe expects that its projected gaming facility, which will be built in Kern County about 4 miles from the Tribe’s government center, will generate over 1,000 buildings and roughly 5,000 decent paying jobs, with a substantial amount of the labor coming from the local area.

The Hard Rock Tejon will include a large hotel with 400 rooms, an RV park, many eateries, a conference center, entertainment arena, and spa, as well as a casino featuring slot machines and table games.

In Kern County, industry, labor, and local organizations, as well as enforcement agencies and public officials, have all endorsed the proposal. Through a deal with Kern County, the Tribe agreed to offset the prospective gaming facility’s influence on global services and the local environment.

“This is a historic day for the Tejon Indian Tribe and we congratulate them on today’s announcement,” said Chairman of Florida-based Hard Rock International Jim Allen.  

“We look forward to working with the State, the Tribe and Kern County officials to create over 4,900 jobs as we bring our unique brand of casino entertainment to the region.”

According to Chair of the Tejon Indian Tribe Octavio Escobedo III:

“From the start of our relationship with the United States government in 1851, our tribe has fought for a homeland for our people. Today, Governor Newsom made that dream a reality by moving the Tribe closer to the promise of self-determination through economic development and prosperity for its 1,200 members.”

The agreement also encourages tribal governments to invest in expanding tribal government services for their members as well as in local jurisdictions to improve fire and emergency healthcare care, law enforcement, education, welfare, and other infrastructural services. The compact represents the Tribe’s commitment to providing that the economic advantages of gaming are shared by all tribal governments in California through the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund and the Tribal Nation Grant Fund.

Kern County will get about $218 million in revenue within next 20 years as part of the agreement.

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