Contra Costa withdraws opposition to casino

November 3, 2009 7:03:00 PM PST
Contra Costa County supervisors have inked a tentative agreement withdrawing the county's longstanding opposition to an Indian gaming resort in Richmond.

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Once staunch opponents, Contra Costa supervisors have drafted an agreement with the Guidiville band of Pomo Indians to support a proposed casino and resort at Richmond's Point Molate.

It was a surprising move from a board that has spent more than $1 million fighting urban gaming.

"Ultimately, the federal government gets to decide whether this project happens and we want to exercise leverage to get the most for the community if it is approved," Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia said.

In exchange for supervisors' support, the tribe promises an annual payout of $12 million to cover the cost of increased demand on county services like health care.

Critics call it a sellout.

"We are extremely dismayed, extremely disappointed to have this deal cut really behind closed doors and then dumped on the public like this," Andres Soto of the Coalition to Save Pt. Molate said.

But trade unions are pushing hard for the project, which could provide thousands of new jobs.

"If our community is out there doing something constructive, then they're not going to be out there doing something destructive, because there ain't nobody doing nothing," casino supporter Antwon Cloird said.

Besides a 124,000 square foot casino, the project calls for the construction of two luxury hotels and dozens of retail stores on the old Point Molate Navy refueling site.

Restoring the historic buildings would also be part of the plan.

But some say the casino project's benefit do not outweigh potential costs.

"I have seen what has happened to some of my very dear friends, it is very addictive and it causes so much damage that I don't think you can count a job worth what happens to families," casino opponent Gloria Magleby said.

County supervisors will vote on their agreement with the tribe next week. The Richmond City Council, state and federal authorities will then all have to sign off on the project before the casino could open in 2014.

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