Hard Rock International and the Tejon Indian Tribe are teaming up to build a new $600 million hotel and casino just south of Bakersfield, California, according to a joint press release from the two entities.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon, located on 306 acres of federal trust land, will include 13 restaurants and bars, a spa and fitness facility, the largest conference center in the county and a concert venue in addition to the hotel and casino. The new complex will take up 52 acres of the site, and 22 acres will be transformed into an RV park. Tribal administration offices, services facilities and housing will be built on the remainder of the property.
The project is expected to generate 1,000 construction jobs and will also see the Tejon property's developers provide local Kern County law enforcement and fire department with improvements in public safety facilities and equipment.
Casinos that operate on reservations or other tribal land operate under tribal sovereignty, meaning that they can run gambling operations in states where it would otherwise not be allowed by law. In Florida, for example, two of the most successful Hard Rock venues are on Seminole Tribe reservations in Tampa and Hollywood. In fact, the Seminole Tribe owns Hard Rock International.
And Native American-run gambling is big business. The latest available data from the National Indian Gaming Commission revealed that in 2017, U.S. Native American gambling operations brought in $32.4 billion in recorded gross revenue annually, the seventh consecutive increase.
In California, another Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is scheduled to open 35 miles north of Sacramento by the end of this year. The $440 million venue topped out in February, and crews have started work on interior finishes, according to 500 Nations.
But not all communities welcome these tribe-run casinos, even though they create both construction and permanent jobs.
On Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, some are trying to prevent the Aquinnah Wampanoag tribe from building a casino on the island, which is located south of Cape Cod. Officials in the town of Aquinnah have asked a federal judge to require that the tribe apply for a town building permit, but the tribe maintains it doesn't need a permit because a federal court has already given it permission to build a casino on tribal land. Construction had already started on the project when the legal action forced a halt to work.