Tule River Tribe starts lengthy process to move casino to new site

The Tule River Tribe is planning to build an $180 million casino at this site along West Street in Porterville, California. Image: Google Maps The Tule River Tribe is seeking federal and state approval to relocate its casino in California.

The tribe plans to close the Eagle Mountain Casino and build a new one on 40 acres at the Porterville Airport Industrial Park. The $180 million facility is slated to include a 105,000 square-foot casino, a 250 room hotel, a sports bar, restaurant, buffet and food court, an entertainment lounge, a 20,000 square-foot convention space and a 1,700-seat entertainment center, banquet hall and meeting space, according to a notice that was published in the Federal Register and the tribe's December newsletter.

The tribe is pursuing the off-reservation project under the two-part determination provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. That means both the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the state governor must approve.

The process can take years to complete and can generate significant legal and political controversy. Similar two-part determinations in California remain in limbo after more than a decade of work by the Enterprise Rancheria and the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians.

Additionally, a new court decision has cast doubt on the ability of the state governor to concur with a two-part determination. The ruling came in response to the North Fork Rancheria's proposed casino.

But the Tule River Tribe remains hopeful and has already secured local support for the relocation. “We could be two to three years to opening, if everything went perfectly," council member Gary G. Santos told The Porterville Recorder.

The airport location offers more room to grow and better access to major highways. But tribal officials are also hoping to address competition from the Tejon Tribe, whose proposed casino would be located near Bakersfield.

"Right now a major part of Eagle Mountain Casino’s profit comes from the Bakersfield area," the Tule River Tribe's newsletter stated.

The BIA is holding a scoping meeting at the Porterville Veterans Memorial Building in Porterville on January 23 to discuss the environmental impact statement for the project.

Read More on the Story:
Tule River Indian Tribe lays out casino move plans (The Porterville Recorder 1/4)
Eagle Mountain pushes forward to bring Casino to Porterville (The Visalia Times-Delta 1/5)

Also Today:
Eagle Mountain Casino donates more than $155K in 2016 (The Porterville Recorder 1/5)

Federal Register Notice:
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Tule River Tribe's Proposed Fee-to-Trust and Eagle Mountain Casino Relocation Project, Tulare County, California (December 30, 2016)

California Court of Appeal Decision:
Stand Up For California v. State of California (December 12, 2016)

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