Timbisha Shoshone Tribe off-reservation casino bid stirs debate

The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe hopes to build a casino at this site along North China Lake Boulevard in Ridgecrest, California. Image from Google Maps

An off-reservation casino proposed by the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe is the talk of the town in Ridgecrest, California.

The Ridgecrest Daily Independent has reported almost daily on the subject for the past week and the paper said its Facebook account is buzzing with comments. The casino dominates posts on another Facebook group and a new one was created just to talk about the project.

"I am blown away. I think we’ve heard from a lot of members of the community," Justin O’Neill, a local resident, told the paper.

O’Neill -- whom the paper describes as a "social media consultant" -- posted a series of images on Facebook that he said would be presented at a town hall this Wednesday. He attributed the "concept images" to Nigel White, who has been quoted by the Daily Independent and is said to represent the developer of the casino.

The proposed off-reservation casino in Ridgecrest, California, is apparently being based on casinos operated by the Navajo Nation. A social media consulted posted this series of images but did not outright say they were of the Navajo facilities.

The images depict the Northern Edge Navajo Casino and the Twin Arrows Casino Resort, both owned and operated by the Navajo Nation. Those facilities were designed by the Friedmutter Group, whose name was brought up by the Ridgecrest paper in a story published on Monday, but it's not clear whether the firm is working with the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe.

According to O’Neill and White, the tribe plans to spend $29 million on the first phase of the casino and $16.8 million on the second. Additional information is expected to be shared at the meeting on Wednesday. An agenda and a supplemental agenda also offer some details.

The casino site is near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. A land-into-trust application will be submitted to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The tribe has a reservation in Death Valley National Park but it has to look elsewhere for economic development due to restrictions there.

Get the Story:
Casino concept released: Fans and foes take the debate online (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent 4/26)
Proposed casino developer talks 'myths' (The Ridgecrest Daily Independent 4/23)

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