California governor signs Tule River gaming compact
The Tule River Indian Tribe has a renewed gaming compact with the State of California as Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. signed a new agreement on Friday that will allow uninterrupted operation of the tribe’s Eagle Mountain Casino in Tulare County for an additional 20 years, according to The Porterville Recorder.
The tribe has operated the Eagle Mountain Casino at the present location on its 55,356-acre Tule River Reservation, located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains south of Fresno and north of Bakersfield, for more than two decades. The previous tribal-state gaming compact was set to expire in 2020. In addition to the decades-long extension, the revised compact is reportedly in keeping with current compacts. And also includes changes to the local mitigation process and the way funds are allocated to the special distribution fund, according to the news agency.
In a letter to Assemblyman Devon Mathis thanking him for his support, Tule River Tribal Council Chairman Neil Peyron said “the Eagle Mountain Casino is essential to the tribe’s viability.” Peyron added, “With revenues from the casino, the tribe has invested in improving the reservation and its members by establishing a fire department, police department, medical and dental facility, elementary school, justice center, student study center, and Veterans center,” as reported by The Porterville Recorder.
More than 375 people, who operate and maintain all of its programs, are employed by the Tule River Indian Tribe. The casino, which features over 1,200 slots, table games including poker, and a steakhouse, buffet restaurant, food court, and coffeehouse, is one of the region’s largest employers with almost 500 employees.
Approval by both the lower and upper houses of the state Legislature is still needed in order for the newly signed compact to be ratified. Peyron reportedly said that the Tule River Indian Tribe believes that the County of Tulare, the City of Porterville and the tribe will greatly benefit by the revised compact. Among other things, the revised compact ensures that local governments receive a fair share of resources, said Peyron.
According to the news agency, the tribe’s efforts to relocate the casino to tribal-owned land some 21 miles away at the Porterville Airport Industrial Park continues to move forward.
In October last year, the Porterville City Council voted to send a letter backing the tribe’s $150 million proposal to move the casino to 40 acres of land owned by the tribe, located at the west end of the industrial park, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional director. Once the Department of the Interior approves the relocation, the tribe will need the Governor to sign off on it. If approved, the tribe would reportedly build a new casino with a 250-room hotel and a 20,000 square-foot convention center.