The casino industry revenue topped $159.71bn in 2015 and will see continuous growth as we further move into 2016. As the digital age grows, the gaming industry is one of the very few industries that continue to rely on brick and mortar sites as well as an online presence. With the popularity of online casinos games rising (such as Red Flush), a renewed interest in going to a physical venue for Poker, Blackjack and Roulette has created interest for investors in California.

Authorities in Kern County, California held a meeting on May 18 to discuss a proposal to build a new super casino at a cost of $29 million (£20 million). Approval could mean that 67,000 gambling fans per year may soon be flocking to a site near the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake.

China Lake Naval Base
China Lake Naval Base

What do these plans entail?

The Native American Timbisha Shoshone Tribe tabled the plans. Its members want to build a 20,000 sq. ft. super casino in Ridgecrest; a city which stands 130 miles away from the tribe’s reservation at Death Valley National Park.

The project is expected to create as many as 180 jobs and attract almost 70,000 visitors on an annual basis. The plans propose 349 slot machines, six table games, in addition to an entertainment lounge and two restaurants.

What does the approval process involve?

The meeting on May 18 was the fifth in as many weeks. The tribe first needed to get approval from the city of Ridgecrest. As part of the licensing process, the tribe is obliged to hand in a Land-into-Trust Application with the Bureau of Indian Affairs after gaining the approval of city officials.

In return for Ridgecrest’s co-operation, the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe promises to pay the city $400,000 (£273,000) per year, in addition to the one-off sum of $80,000 (£55,000).

The results of the meeting

According to an article from The Ridgecrest Daily Independent, city officials approved the deal at the meeting. This is despite criticism from residents in the area, many of whom question the need for a casino.

Some also questioned why the tribe wishes to build their new venture 130 miles – and a five-mile drive – away from their reservation, which straddles eastern California and Nevada.

It would certainly have been a lot easier for the venture to gain approval had the proposed site been within the reservation. This is because, under the Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, these areas have tribal sovereignty and aren’t covered by the same strict gaming laws.

Timbisha Shoshone Tribe
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe