In California, the federally-recognized Tule River Tribe has received significant local support for a plan to relocate its Eagle Mountain Casino to tribal-owned land some 21 miles away at the Porterville Airport Industrial Park.
According to a report from The Porterville Recorder newspaper, the Porterville City Council held a special meeting on Tuesday and voted by a 4-to-1 margin to send a letter backing the tribe’s proposal for an off-reservation casino to Amy Dutschke, Regional Director for the Bureau Of Indian Affairs in Sacramento.
“This is the beginning of the process with the Bureau Of Indian Affairs and the letter of support is just that first step,” Matthew Mingrone, General Manager for the Eagle Mountain Casino told the newspaper. “The project idea is supported, that is all it’s saying, and that we do have a relationship and a rapport. This is our way of saying to the Bureau Of Indian Affairs that we are not going to be one of those negative projects; we are doing things the right way by getting the support ahead of time.”
The Porterville Recorder reported that the Tule River Tribe is considering moving its Eagle Mountain Casino to 40 acres of land it has owned for more than 25 years located at the west end of the industrial park and has been meeting with state and federal officials concerning the $150 million proposal for some time. The tribe informed the Tulare County Board Of Supervisors of the relocation plan, which would also include the construction of a 250-room hotel and a 20,000 sq ft convention center, in August with the body’s Chairman, Mike Ennis, explaining that county officials are largely supportive of the idea.
“We are trying to get this done as quickly and as efficiently as possible and in a way that meets both of our needs,” Gary Santos, a member of the Tule River Tribal Council, told the Porterville City Council. “We have great expectations that this will get done.”
The newspaper explained that this represents the first in many steps and meetings that could take place before the tribe receives official approval from the Bureau Of Indian Affairs while Santos and Mingrone declared that the relocation plan had received similar support from the local sheriff and neighboring tribes.
The Eagle Mountain Casino is celebrating 20 years at its present location in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains some 170 miles north of Los Angeles and features table games such as blackjack and poker alongside over 1,200 slots and a steakhouse, buffet restaurant and food court. But, the Tulare County venue is sited on a two-lane winding road while the Tule River Tribe’s first attempt to move the enterprise in 2013 was scuppered after it ran into opposition from local merchants fearful that any new site would offer retail stores exempt from paying sales tax.
The Porterville Recorder declared that the Tule River Tribe’s gambling compact with the state of California expires in 2019 and that renewal talks had already begun while the tribe is moreover now working on a new memorandum of understanding with the city of Porterville.
“It’s about time we get this done and get it going,” Porterville mayor Milt Stowe told the Porterville City Council.