California Tribe Scores Important Win in Effort to Open Hard Rock Bakersfield Casino

Posted on: July 24, 2019, 04:00h. 

Last updated on: July 23, 2019, 08:40h.

California’s Tejon Indian Tribe notched a critical win in its quest to open a $600 million Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Mettler, Calif., near Bakersfield, when the Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday in favor of a $218 million pact detailing services the county will provide to the gaming property over the next two decades.

A rendering of the proposed $600 million Hard Rock Casino near Bakersfield, Calif. (Image: Kero)

Kern County recently proposed the deal, which includes a one-off payment of $13.3 million to pay for construction of a new fire station and a new law enforcement substation.

The approximately $600 million Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon will be developed on a portion of a 306-acre parcel of land, located approximately 25 minutes south of Bakersfield, off Highway 99 near the 166 Mettler exit,” according to the tribe.

It is common for tribes to enter into similar deals with local officials in areas in which they hope to open gaming properties. Typically, services provided by counties to tribal casinos include fire, law enforcement, trash removal and infrastructure maintenance.

Tejon Indian Tribe is expected to pay a six percent room occupancy tax to Kern County to cover expenses associated with the creation of nine new fire jobs, 13 sheriff’s department positions and new equipment.

Big Casino, Big Impact

When opened, the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Kern County is expected to have 165,000 square fee of gaming space, over 400 guest rooms and 13 dining establishments. The property is also expected to have an RV park, convention center, entertainment area and a spa.

“The Hard Rock Tejon project’s economic impact on Kern County will be substantial,” said the tribe. “The project is expected to create more than 1,000 construction jobs and over 2,000 permanent jobs once completed, plus creating additional jobs due to the economic-multiplier effect during construction and after opening.”

At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the board voted 4-0, with one member absent, in favor of approving the $218 million, 20-year agreement to provide Tejon Indian Tribe with vital public services.

The US Bureau of Indian Affairs is working on an environmental assessment of the project that will either recommend the casino project to the US Department of the Interior or highlight areas that need to be addressed before the effort can move forward. Tribal casinos, including the 60-plus in California, are regulated at the federal level.

Hard Rock Benefit

Hard Rock International operates 11 casinos, a number that is poised to grow with recent news that Spectacle Entertainment is set to transform Indiana’s Majestic Star Casino in Gary into a Hard Rock. The hospitality is experienced in tribal partnerships as two of its most successful casinos are run by Florida’s Seminole Tribe.

Tejon Indian Tribe is the only federally recognized Indian tribe in Kern County and has nearly 1,000 members. The tribe estimated annual payroll for its casino will be $59 million. California tribal gaming venues generate about $8 billion in annual revenue.