Casino relocation awaits Newsom’s OK

Gov. Gavin Newsom will play key role if Eagle Mountain Casino is going to relocate near Porterville

By John Lindt
Sierra2theSea News Service

PORTERVILLE – The relocation of Eagle Mountain Casino from the Sierra foothills to the Valley floor near the Porterville airport in Tulare County is one step closer this month with the release of the final EIS (environmental document) for the huge project.

Comments on the project are due July 1. The airpark location could be brought into trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) after the closure of the comment period.

But that will not signal the start of construction of the $180 million complex just yet.

The Tule Indian tribe says that before the BIA can take the Airpark Site into trust for the Tribe, the BIA needs to get Gov. Gavin Newsom’s concurrence that a gaming operation at the site is in the best interests of the Tribe and not detrimental to the surrounding community. 

“We expect the BIA to send a request to the Governor for his concurrence later this summer and the Governor will then have a year to provide his OK,” they wrote in a statement.

But Matthew Mingrone, the general manager at Eagle Mountain Casino told a Porterville Chamber meeting this month he hopes for a much quicker response from Newsom. “Hopefully, by the first or second week of July, the Governor will agree with the Department of Interior, and within the next 30 days after that, we will be able to start making plans to break ground on the new big, beautiful facility for all of us to enjoy.”

That would mean construction work could start sooner than later, maybe late this year. The relocation has been the subject of discussion since the original casino was built 15 miles east of Porterville in 1996 on reservation land.

– John Lindt is the publisher of Sierra2theSea.net, an online newspaper covering California’s Central Valley and Central Coast.

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