But the payback for the Friant-Auberry community is less clear.
The tribe is negotiating how much it may pay Fresno County
for deputies, roads, water and sewers. And many of the estimated
2,500 jobs could be low-paying with high turnover rates, said
a former industry official.
Expected to open in 2006, the $250 million casino-resort will
feature at least 2,000 slot machines and 20 gaming tables. A
250- to 300-room hotel, several restaurants and shops are planned
for the resort.
Caesars and the tribe have not said where they will build
the 48-acre development, but county officials have indicated
it will be near the intersection of Auberry and Millerton roads,
about 10 miles northeast of Fresno.
For the tribe, the agreement -- finalized this week -- means
a stream of revenue leaders say will be used for social services
such as education and health care.
"Were just very excited, things are going to be moving
fast -- it's overwhelming," said Connie Lewis, tribal chairwoman
for Big Sandy Band.
Namely, the tribe must amend its compact with the state. Its
current agreement governs the tribe's 329-slot Mono Wind Casino,
about 15 miles northeast of the planned casino.
The tribe will continue to operate the Mono
Wind Casino, at least for the time being, said Ric Contreras,
tribal administrator for Big Sandy.
"It may be a smaller scale, it may be a different type
of gaming operation, but we're going to keep it open,"
If the casino is approved and built, it would mark Caesars
entry into California, a move one analyst said shows the state's
tribal gaming industry is "big league."
"The name Caesars means the best," said Bill Thompson,
a University of Nevada at Las Vegas professor who has written
10 books on the gaming industry.
Caesars will be able to promote its other outlets to a growing
Fresno population, he said. Also the company may be planning
to draw out-of-state visitors by packaging the resort with trips
to nearby Yosemite National Park.