Agencies OK proposed casino location near Needles

The location of a casino proposed by the Fort Mojave Band of Indians has won approval from a number of federal, state and local government agencies as well as voters.

The casino would house two restaurants, a 100,000-square-foot gaming floor and 1,500 slot machines near Needles, according to documents submitted to San Bernardino County.

The proposed 300-acre site is four miles west of the city, just south of the 40 Freeway.

There are a number of hurdles the proposal must clear before construction can begin.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and a tribal-state compact signed in 2004, the tribe is required to get approval of the casino location from various government agencies.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, part of the U.S. Interior Department, has signed off on the location.

Most recently, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger officially agreed Nov. 20 with the federal agency’s decision.

„The governor has concurred with the Department of Interior’s determination,“ said Camille Anderson, spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office.

Earlier this year, the city of Needles approved the location of the casino as did the county Board of Supervisors.

The location of the casino was also presented to Needles voters as a ballot initiative in the Nov. 4 election. The measure passed with more than 70 percent of the vote.

The tribe still must finalize an agreement with the city about mitigating negative impacts, said Needles Mayor Jeff Williams. The agreement will likely be reached after Jan. 1, he said.

In addition, the tribe must also complete negotiations with the county for public safety services, which include law enforcement and fire protection, said David Wert, county spokesman.

The proposed casino near Needles would be the third casino operated by the 1,120-member tribe, which owns gaming facilities in Arizona and Nevada.
Construction is expected to begin by 2010, Williams said.

Roads accessing the casino also will need to be built, a cost that county officials said would be shouldered by the tribe.