On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously consented to an inter-governmental with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to ensure Riverside County is compensated for impacts stemming from the tribe’s future casino in Cathedral City.
In a 5-0 vote without comment, the board entered into its initial mitigation agreement with the tribe, paving the way for additional accords after the proposed casino and associated structures are erected on a 13-acre space reserved for redevelopment in downtown Cathedral City, which has negotiated its own agreements.
The county’s talks with the tribe began over three years ago, and since that time, a tribal environmental impact report has been issued detailing what the casino development would entail and how it might affect the region.
According to documents posted to the board agenda, the gaming facility that the tribe envisions will be the anchor point for a mixed-use development encompassing 125,000 square feet. The proposed casino would be surrounded by office space, retail outlets, restaurants and parking lots.
Traffic, noise, pollution and public safety considerations would largely fall on Cathedral City. However, county services would be required to contend with social impacts, including gambling addiction problems, substance abuse and related mental health challenges tied to the gaming operation, according to officials.
These “off-reservation” impacts cannot be readily measured until after the facility is in operation for a while, and the agreement with the tribe recognizes the need for better metrics to set an appropriate payment formula for the county.
“The tribe shall provide reasonable compensation to address, ameliorate, reduce and compensate the county for (the) demonstrated effect (of the casino on county services),” the agreement states.
For the current fiscal year, the tribe will pay the county $125,000 for “for project-related impacts,” with all of the funding dedicated to the Riverside University Health System-Behavioral Health Department, according to documents.
The tribe already operates the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in neighboring Rancho Mirage.