An opening date has yet to be announced for the $360 million Hollywood Casino Jamul, which is situated on the tribe’s federally recognized reservation in East County, San Diego.
In the interim, chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village, Erica Pinto, addresses concerns regarding the casino slated to open by the summer’s end on the sovereign land of her tribe, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Pinto states that for more than 20 years the tribe, which is one of 13 bands of the Kumeyaay Nation has fought to achieve the same economic independence that other tribes in San Diego have achieved. The tribe signed a compact with the state of California in 1999, as did many other tribes. The goal being economic self-sufficiency and a better life for tribal members, stated Pinto.
On August 4 this year, a 25-year tribal-state gaming compact between the Jamul Indian Village and the state was signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The compact establishes the terms under which the tribe’s Hollywood Casino Jamul will operate. Due to its status as a sovereign nation, the tribe isn’t legally obligated to have a business agreement with San Diego County, nor does it need the county’s support to open the casino it’s been planning for more than 15 years. Back in April, a formal agreement between the tribe and San Diego County was approved by the Board of Supervisors and at that time Pinto said that the tribe wanted to do the right thing for the community and be a good neighbor.
According to Pinto, despite the agreements between the tribe and state and county governments to pursue the project; efforts to design the casino in keeping with the history and surroundings; the tribe’s commitment to make road improvements; and improvements to fire and life safety services, opponents of the project continue to object. The most recent being by the Jamul Action Committee, formerly known as Jamulians Against the Casino, which has an appeal pending with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and is also looking to have the casino’s liquor license rescinded, at least until such time as the road improvements suggested by the residents are made by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans). Pinto says the tribe recognizes “the challenges and concerns of Highway 94, which residents say is a death trap.
Pinto says that for 25 years the tribe has worked on plans and remedies intended to address traffic issues and that an approximately $20 million commitment has been made by the tribe toward improvements Caltrans has identified. As well as $3.7 million more for road improvements requested by San Diego County as part of the agreement signed in April. Those improvements, along with a traffic signal on Highway 94, Pinto says, will continue in planned phases. Pinto echoed the recent statement issued by the Jamul Indian Village assuring that it is “wholeheartedly devoted to community safety.”
Pinto wrapped up the address by stating that the creation of the Hollywood Casino is intended to benefit more than just the tribe. And that to date, more than 1,000 permanent jobs and 1,500 construction jobs have been created by the facility, and that it “will present new opportunities for local businesses, resulting in significant contributions to the overall economy of the area, county, and region,” according to the news agency.