Bill now headed to DOI

California: Hard Rock Casino in Kern County takes step forward after Gov. Gavin Newsom signs Tejon tribe compact

Rendering for the proposed Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon project.
Reading time 2:15 min

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed SB 910, a bill ratifying the gaming compact agreed to by the Tejon Indian Tribe and the State of California. The compact would allow the tribe, among other things, to move forward with plans to build a casino on land in Kern County. The Tejon Indians plan to partner with Hard Rock International on the project.

"The compact agreement with the Tejon Indian Tribe is the beginning of building something better," said Senator Hurtado, who filed the bill. "Kern County has a reputation as a community of leaders who come together to get things done, and that is exactly what they did to accomplish this major milestone. I appreciate the community's advocacy and applaud the Governor for signing SB 910. This compact agreement will bring jobs and economic growth to an area in sincere need."

Meanwhile, Chair of the Tejon Indian Tribe Octavio Escobedo commented: "On behalf of the Tejon Indian Tribe and its more than 1,200 members, we would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to Governor Gavin Newsom for signing Senate bill 910. We owe a debt of gratitude to the Governor for his vision and unwavering commitment to the Tejon Tribe. Our Tribal-State Compact, ratified by SB 910, marks a significant milestone in our tribe’s history and creates an opportunity for our tribe to pursue economic security and independence."

Since Newsom has now signed the bill, it will go to the Department of the Interior (DOI). The DOI will have 45 days to review the compact and ensure it complies with the Indian Gaming Regulation Act. The 45-day review period begins when the compact is received and stamped by the Department of Indian Affairs.

Senate Bill 910 is the vehicle to ratify the tribal-state gaming compact between the State of California and the Tejon Indian Tribe. A proposed gaming facility, located in Kern County, is expected to create 5,000 construction and 3,300 permanent high-wage jobs, improving local workforce opportunities. The Tejon Indian Tribe has committed to Kern County to mitigate any impacts on the environment and on public services.

The Tejon Tribe is partnering with Hard Rock International –a brand of the Florida-based Seminole Tribe– on the development. According to previously shared plans for the venue, the 166,500-square-foot casino will have an 11-story hotel, 3,000 slot machines, and an annual payroll estimated at $59 million. 

It would also have 400 hotel rooms, a number of restaurants, an entertainment venue, and a convention center. The state constitution prohibits games that use dice or balls, meaning Craps and Roulette will not be allowed. Thus, in addition to the selection of slots, guests will also have to make do with Poker, Blackjack, and Asian table games, according to Hard Rock.

The Tejon casino will be located just off Interstate 5, at Highway 166. It would be part of a 320-acre complex that would also include housing, a healthcare facility, and administrative space for the 1,200-member tribe. While the venue will be managed and operated by a group led by Hard Rock International, the resort, parking, and all related structures will “at all times” be owned by the Tejon Tribe.

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