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Barstow Mayor: Casino still in preliminary stage
Recent Madera County casino approval ‘good news'
BARSTOW• The process of bringing a casino to Barstow was still in “preliminary talks,” said Barstow Mayor Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre upon her return from Sacramento.
Hackbarth-McIntyre and three other city officials attended meetings with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office and the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians Tribe on July 2 to continue discussions on a casino.
Officials also discussed the progress of the Avenue L and Main Street shopping center master plan and restoring funding to the Barstow Courthouse, city spokesman Anthony Riley said Monday.
“The conversations were productive and the city will continue to monitor developments related to all three matters in the coming months,” Riley said.
Regarding the casino initiative, the tribe’s fee-to-trust application is still pending in the U.S. Department of Interior, according to Riley. The Los Coyotes Band is based out of San Diego and approval of the application is necessary to convert the private lands to federal title for gaming.
City Councilman Rich Harpole said Monday that the recent approval of an off-reservation casino project in Madera County, located in the Central Valley, was a good sign for the Barstow project. The Madera County casino was given the green light after the California Senate approved a deal to allow the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians to build 35 miles from their ancestral lands. The North Fork compact passed with a 22-11 vote in the Senate on June 27, according to online reports.
“The Madera project is very similar to the Barstow project and has taken us about as long to complete,” Harpole said. “The fact that the project has been approved is good news for Barstow because it suggests that we will be able to successfully complete our project too.”
Barstow city officials have worked to bring Indian gaming to the city for 10 years, citing economic benefits and job creation. The city’s unemployment rate was 12 percent in May, about 4.5 percent above the national rate.
Travelers on Interstate 15 traveling to Las Vegas or Los Angeles frequently visit Barstow. The city is also located 74 miles from the San Manuel Indian Bingo Casino and 104 miles from one of the nation’s largest Indian gaming centers, the Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa.
Contact the writer:BSelf@DesertDispatch.com or 760-256-4123.