Artist's rendering of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tejon near Bakersfield, California. Image: Tejon Tribe/Hard Rock International

Tejon Tribe awaits next steps for $600 million Hard Rock gaming project

The Tejon Tribe is gearing up for the next step in its journey toward self-sufficiency.

The tribe anticipates a public hearing on its $600 million gaming development this fall, The Bakersfield Californian reported. Residents of Kern County are already receiving postcards about the long-awaited project.

"The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon will bring significant economic benefits and new entertainment options to Kern County while creating a new economic future for the Tejon Indian Tribe," the postcards state, The Californian reported. "Show your support and help us make this exciting project a reality!"

The tribe has partnered with Hard Rock International, one of the most prominent names in the gaming, entertainment and hospitality industry. They are planning a 165,500-square-foot casino with a 400-room hotel and a 22-acre RV park on a 306-acre site near Bakersfield.

To gain approval for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tejon, the tribe has submitted a land-into-trust application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The agency must review the environmental impact statement for the project as part of the process.

There are no timelines for action but the BIA's schedule anticipates a draft environmental impact statement to be released later this year. A public hearing and public comment period is expected to follow.

As for the final environmental impact statement, it's listed as "To Be Determined" on the BIA's schedule.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, generally, prohibits casinos on land acquired in trust after 1988. But Section 20 of the law contains an exception for tribes that were restored to federal recognition.

The BIA placed the tribe back on the list of federally recognized entities in January 2012.

The scoping report for the project anticipates two potential avenues for the tribe. The BIA could place the 306-acre site in trust, presumably under the Section 20 exception.

Alternatively, the tribe can go through the two-part determination process of IGRA, according to the scoping report. Approval from the state governor, in addition to the BIA, would be required.

Read More on the Story
Backers of Indian casino look to build public support in advance of government approvals (The Bakersfield Californian July 10, 2019)
Deal-making awaits as Tejon tribe plans casino project (The Delano Record June 13, 2019)
Tejon Indian Tribe celebrates Hard Rock casino partnership (KBAK/KBFX June 11, 2019)

Federal Register Notice
Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Tejon Indian Tribe's Proposed Trust Acquisition and Casino Project, Kern County, California (August 13, 2015)

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