Report revives gaming plan in Barstow
Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/09/2011 07:11:54 AM PDT

BARSTOW – An Indian casino proposed 10 years ago appears to be back on track with the completion of a draft environmental impact statement.

A public hearing on the nearly 1,000-page federal document will be held July 27 at Barstow College.

The prospect of the casino’s opening is welcome news to residents, where the unemployment rate is 17.2 percent and 47 percent get some form of government assistance, such as food stamps or Medi-Cal, said Ron Rector, community and economic development director for the city of Barstow.

“This is going to be a shot in the arm that Barstow really needs,” he said.

Nevertheless, significant hurdles remain for the Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indian’s $160 million casino and adjacent 100-room hotel.

The earliest it could open would be in 2013 or 2014, said a spokesman for the tribe’s development partner, Detroit-based BarWest Gambling Inc.

BarWest is a joint venture of Marion Ilitch, co-founder of Little Caesars Pizza and owner of the Detroit Red Wings hockey team, and Michael J. Malik, a developer.

“I’ve never seen anybody with the tenacity and patience to get things done” as Malik, said Joseph W. Brady, a Victorville-based real estate broker and developer.

Brady’s The Bradco Cos. assembled the real estate for the casino project.

“The constant challenge of our region is the creation of jobs,” Brady said.

The casino is projected to employ more than 800.

“With $40 million in annual salaries, this will help us provide living wage jobs,” Rector said.

“It will help fire up the housing market. … The spinoff will be huge,” he said.

Among the benefits would be to generate more traffic to the two outlet malls in town, which are located near the 100-acre land site where the casino is slated to be built.

Although the Tanger outlet center is thriving, the nearby Barstow Outlet Mall has a vacancy rate above 50 percent, Rector said.

More than 80 percent of the casino’s business is projected to come from travelers on the 15 Freeway, said Tom Shields, spokesman for BarWest.

In an unusual agreement between a tribe and a municipality, Barstow will receive 4.3percent of the casino’s revenue, Shields said.

That should be about $4 million in the first year of operation, he said.

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