Signed compact for Kern County

California Gov. greenlights Hard Rock casino project with Tejon tribe

California Governor Gavin Newsom.
Reading time 1:29 min

California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a gaming compact with the Tejon Indian Tribe that greenlights gambling operations at the proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon in Kern County. The compact will now move onto California legislation for ratification.

The $600 million resort will be operated by the tribe and Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

According to a press release by the tribe, which has been landless for more than 150 years, this compact will see 320 acres of the land taken to benefit the tribe, while 52 of the acres will be used for a Hard Rock complex, and nearly 5,000 new jobs will be created in Kern County. The Tribe stated that the remaining acreage would be used for tribal purposes, including housing, a healthcare facility and administrative offices.

The Kern County Board of Supervisors threw its support behind a planned Tejon Indian Tribe Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in July 2019. In October 2020, the Bureau of Indian Affairs completed the final draft of an environmental impact statement. On January 8 this year, it received U.S. federal approval when the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Tara Sweeney signed a record of decision and issued a secretarial decision finding the proposed site suitable for the tribe’s plans and allowing gaming to take place at the location.

Last month, Newsom signed into law a bill that would exempt two other tribal gaming projects from review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Senate Bill 900, introduced by state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, and co-authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, ratifies gaming compacts between the state of California and two tribes —the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe, and the Middletown Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians. These compacts were agreed upon in March this year. 

In the meantime, the state is heading to a potential legalization of sport betting, and the California Secretary of State has until June 30 to formally qualify a ballot measure backed by major online sportsbook operators, which in November would compete against California's tribal sports betting ballot initiative, which already qualified.

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