City Council in OC rejects tribe casino plan

Garden Grove, California (AP)

Council members voted down an Indian tribe's proposal to build a Las Vegas-style casino near Disneyland, citing likely difficulties in getting the project approved.

The Council decided instead Tuesday to offer most of the 40-acre parcel for development as a hotel, retail and entertainment complex.

“We needed to start producing revenue on that land now,” Councilman Mark Rose said. “The hotel project is not going to get off immediately either, but at least we can start moving on it.”

The casino proposal by the Gabrielino-Tongva Indian tribe promised $70 million in annual tax revenue and college scholarships to every high school graduate.

But since the Gabrielinos have no land of their own, the tribe would have had to have a statewide ballot measure passed allowing state-recognized tribes to build casinos on the property of others.

“They had a dream, but there was nothing to go with it,” Councilman Bruce Broadwater said.

The proposal also encountered stiff opposition from members of the city's Vietnamese community who spoke at the hearing. Many said the casino would result in increased crime, more traffic and higher suicides rates.

Broadwater said he believed their strong showing was a factor in the 5-0 vote.

Council members left open the possibility of having a casino built in the future by designating only 25 acres the parcel for the planned development that would include an upscale hotel with an indoor-outdoor water park, shops and restaurants.

“I am still intrigued by the casino, but it is a long way off,” Rosen said.