It won’t be long now before the Tejon Tribe becomes the first tribe in Kern County to run a casino. California lawmakers signed off on the Tejon Tribe’s gaming compact last week.
In a couple of months, voters will decide the fate of two California sports betting bills that could impact 70-plus California tribal casinos. One tribe, however, remains focused on its dream to build a casino resort south of Bakersfield.
The Legislature recently passed a bill ratifying a gaming compact between the state of California and the Tejon Indian Tribe. A $600 million proposed casino near Mettler moves one step closer to realization.
Compact moves to Newsom’s desk then to Interior
Tejon Indian Tribe Executive Councilwoman Sandra Hernandez expressed her views after the vote.
“The tribe is definitely elated. I don’t think any of us have words adequate enough to describe not just the happiness and elation, but the feeling of what it means to have such a historical vote directly impact all of us as tribal members.”
After winning the Assembly’s support, Senate Bill 910 passed the state Senate on a 39-0 vote. Its next stop is Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. Then, the US Department of the Interior has 45 days to review it.
According to online records, Sen. Anna Caballero, one of the bill’s co-authors, did not vote on the legislation. Melissa Hurtado, senator for the 14th District CA-D, also co-authored the bill.
“I think this is a long time overdue and this is justice for the tribe and happy to be a part of it, but quite frankly, there’s a lot of people that really came together to make sure that this happened.”
Project will give county an economic boost
The compact was endorsed by Kern County’s entire Sacramento delegation as well as the county government in the hopes that it would rev up the Kern County economy. State Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, was thrilled for the tribe and the county.
“It’s an honor to co-author legislation which will finally give long-deserved recognition to the people of the Tejon Tribe. SB 910 will ratify a tribal-state compact that will greatly benefit both the Tejon Tribe and Kern County.”
Construction work on the casino should generate about 1,000 jobs. Once complete, the casino will provide up to 2,000 permanent positions. Additional evaluations assert the project will create nearly 5,000 direct and indirect jobs at the new Southern California casino.
Ally Soper, chief communications officer for the Kern County Administrative Office, sees an economic boost.
“Our organization here at Kern County, the Tejon Indian Tribe and Hard Rock International will be working together to create a substation for the Kern County Fire Department and Kern County Sheriff, out within the area,” Soper said.
No taxpayer money to construct resort
Keen to let the world know, the Kern county government posted the bill’s passage on social media, pointing out highlights of the upcoming casino complex. It will include 400 hotel rooms, several restaurants, an entertainment venue and a convention center.
The post also indicated that no taxpayer money or supporting infrastructure will be spent on the project.
In an email, County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop gave thanks to the county’s state legislative delegation. He added they were now “looking forward to Hard Rock International and the Tejon Tribe beginning construction soon.”
Massive project includes large RV park
The tribe announced in 2019 that it would be teaming up with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to build the casino complex. The project will be on a 306-acre parcel of land 25 miles south of Bakersfield.
Initial plans said 52 acres of the property would be for the hotel and casino. An adjacent 22 acres would become an RV park. The remaining land is to be used by the Tejon Tribe for other purposes, in particular, housing, a health care facility and an administrative office.
With an area of 165,000 square feet, 3,000 slot machines, an 11-story hotel, 13 restaurants and bars, a Rock Spa and fitness facility, a conference center and a Hard Rock Live concert venue, the project is sure to provide a complete resort experience for guests.