BARSTOW – Plans to build two Indian casinos in Barstow were rejected by the U.S. Department of the Interior last week. In letters to three tribes, an assistant Interior secretary for Indian affairs, Carl Artman, disapproved tribal applications with a new federal policy for off-reservation casinos.
Two of the tribes, the Big Lagoon Rancheria and Los Coyotes, had applied to jointly build a casino off I-15 near Barstow. The Chemehuevi tribe had applied to build a competing casino nearby. Each application was for an off-reservation casino. The Big Lagoon Rancheria is 500+ miles north of Bartow, the Los Coyotes reservation is 115 miles south near Warner Springs, and the Chemehuevi reservation is 135 miles away at Lake Havasu. Each reservation is remote with little economic opportunity, so the Barstow officials have been working with them to bring casinos to the Barstow area. Previously the federal government had approved off-reservation casinos for similar cases.
The casino applications were submitted in early 2006, so the tribes consider the government’s change of policy to be “unconscionable and illegal.
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