Even after various legal set-backs, an anti-casino activist group is continuing its push in federal court to stop the development of a $360 million Native American casino hotel under the Hollywood brand from going up near San Diego, California. The self-named Jamul Action Committee along with a church and a handful of local residents are trying to get the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to buy into their claims that four pieces of land, upon which the casino is being built, are not a reservation.
The claims were made in a request for a partial summary judgement.
The group contends that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) must be the agency to determine that land has reservation status, not the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). In 2013 the NIGC released a notice of intent to work up an environmental impact statement – a step needed in advance of a gaming management contract.
Last May, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller tossed the group’s motion for a preliminary injunction that sought to force the NIGC to do the environmental review and block construction of the casino. This was the court action that brought the case before the Ninth Circuit of Appeals.
The Jamul Indian Village and their partners in the project, Penn National Gaming announced in late June that they had placed the final beam on top of the casino and held a “topping off” ceremony to mark the occasion.
In November, Moody’s Investment Service assigned a rating of B3 to the project’s debt, saying that between $25 million and $30 million could be generated in annual cash flow from the project.
Named in the original 2013 suit are Penn National Gaming, its subsidiary San Diego Gaming Ventures LLC, general contractor C.W. Driver Inc., the NIGC, the DOI, individual federal officials, and tribal members. In May Mueller found her court had no jurisdiction over the tribal members who are protected by sovereign immunity. The case is Jamul Action Committee et al v. Stevens et al.
Expected to be completed and opened this summer, the Hollywood Casino Jamul will include some 1,700 slot machines, 43 live dealer table games and 7 poker tables along with multiple food and beverage outlets, a rooftop beer garden, and an enclosed underground parking garage with nearly 2,000 spaces.
The Jamul Indian Village is going forward under a 1999 Gaming Compact with the State of California and have introduced nearly a dozen significant design changes to mitigate any perceived impact to quality of life in the community about 20 miles east of San Diego including potable water consumption and waste-water generation, Dark sky ordinance compliance, and structure heights to name a few.