California’s Tule River Indian Tribe Gets Approval for Land-Into-Trust Petition

Californian tribes have been making a lot of great moves in these last few weeks, with the most prominent being the deal between the Oakland Raiders and San Miguel Band of Mission Indians. Now, it’s the Tule River Indian Tribe’s time to shine, as they received a green light from the United States Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), pertaining to a requested relocation of their Eagle Mountain Casino to a new plot of land.

This key approval means that the tribe only has to be granted permission by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to kickstart the move of their flagship venue. BIA’s decision was met with praise by many communities in central California, mainly because of several pledges made by the Tule River Indian Tribe. Amongst other promises, they vowed to finance the building of a new water treatment facility.

Tough Times

Eagle Mountain Casino saw its first players enter in 1996 and it quickly became the heart and soul of Tulare county. Currently, aside from the casino, the premises include two restaurants, a food court, a coffee shop. Gaming aficionados can enjoy 1,200 slots and ten gaming tables. Even though the project was a success and experienced growth on a yearly basis, the tribe grew increasingly concerned by the lack of a sufficient water supply. As time went on, it became more and more evident that Eagle Mountain Casino would be a thing of the past if something wasn’t done.

Thus, in 2016, the Tule River Indian Tribe officially proposed a relocation plan, with the goal to move the entire enterprise to a 17-plot site in Porterville, California. The way the envisioned it was to orchestrate the building of an entirely new venue, with significant expansions. Despite their best intentions, they couldn’t speed up the decision-making process. With the current decision by BIA already in force, they only have to get the final approval from the Governor. Industry experts widely believe that he will give his thumbs-up, mainly thanks to incentives provided by the tribe.

A Lucrative Improvement

A tribe spokesman stated that they won’t demolish the current structure. Instead, they will utilize the structures to create an office complex devoted to internal matters. The new Eagle Mountain Casino is set to run under a Class III gaming compact. Negotiations with the state of California are to begin soon.

As for the repositioned venue, it will receive a 250-room hotel, surrounded by state-of-the-art conference facilities, an events center and approximately 36,000 square feet of food and beverage space. Of course, the highlight of the entire concept is the 105,000 sq ft gaming area, with 500 more slots and some other novelties, too.

Initially, there were concerns that the building of a casino on the southern outskirts of Porterville will require additional law enforcement presence but were soon dispelled by the tribe’s reassurance.

Everyone Wins

Chairman of the tribe, Neil Peyron, spoke to the media and reiterated that Gov. Newsom has one year to approve the decision. With the promise of a water treatment facility, many households will get better and easier access to clean, drinkable water. Water shortages are a widespread problem throughout the country, and the Tule River Indian Tribe have won over hearts with their pledge and offer to help.

The benefits for the community also include the recruitment of twice as many employees as in the current Eagle Mountain Casino. Additionally, the venue will result in 1,000 or more temporary jobs. With the opportunity to expand and revive their prized venture, the tribe will get funds needed to move their existing water resources. A large chunk of the earnings is set to go to the building as much as 100 new homes on the reservation.

There are no predictions as to when will the Governor give his approval, but it is expected to be in the next few months. Fast advancements are in everybody’s interest, especially when there is such a mutually-beneficial deal in the making. Porterville’s citizens generally support the arrival of Eagle Mountain Casino from its current location 21 miles to the east.

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