Despite considerable traffic delays and several crashes that were reported by local media on the opening day of the long-awaited Hollywood Casino Jamul, the $460 million casino has not contributed to any serious traffic problems, Fox 5 reported.
Speaking at a public hearing on the Jamul Indian Village’s (JIV) casino liquor license, general manager Richard St. Jean said, “There have been no incidents associated with the casino relative to accidents, DUI or anything else,” the station reported. According to the news agency, hundreds of people attended the meeting to protest the casino’s application for a liquor license.
Opponents of the long-awaited casino say that due to safety issues the casino should be denied a permanent liquor license. For years, the 200,000 square foot casino has been the subject of a battle between the Jamul Action Committee (JAC) and the JIV. Previously known as the Jamulians Against the Casino, the group questions the legal status of the tribe’s reservation and filed a lawsuit against the casino in an attempt to prevent its opening.
Fox 5 reports that many locals want the tribe and Caltrans to take care of road safety enhancements before the casino is issued a permanent license. Community activist Marcia Spurgeon said, “We’d like to see the roads mitigated, which was promised to us from Caltrans and the tribe – an agreement in 2009 that they would not open until the roads were mitigated – that’s not happened.”
In the tribe’s news release prior to the opening of the casino, Chairwoman Erica Pinto said that in addition to the more than $90 million in funding the tribe agreed to provide over the next 20 years for law enforcement, fire, and other public safety efforts for San Diego County, it also expects to provide $23 million for transportation and road improvements near the gaming facility.
The southern California casino currently operates under a temporary liquor permit, which was issued on November 4, 2016, after the original interim liquor license issued in August 2016 expired. The permit expires in March 2017 and the decision of whether or not to issue the casino a permanent license is expected to be ongoing after the New Year, the news agency reports.
In April the Board of Supervisors approved a formal agreement between the JIV and the county. While the casino is located on tribal land, a majority of the property surrounding it, as well as some of the access to the reservation, belongs to the county, and Caltrans governs the highway. The JAC suit alleges that the JIV is not a federally recognized tribe and that the facility in its entirety is not built on reservation land. The JAC has an appeal pending with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals; however, a ruling on the federal lawsuits is expected to take at least six months