The Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians — who have a reservation in a rural and mountainous area of San Diego County — first began plans for a casino near the Lenwood outlets in 2001.
The project stalled in 2008 after the Department of Interior issued a memorandum that required offreservation gaming casinos to be located within a “commutable distance” of the tribe’s reservation.
The application for the Los Coyotes casino in Barstow was rejected because of the new requirement, and the tribe filed another application in May 2008, said Suzanne Schaeffer, a lawyer working on the land trust application for the tribe.
Earlier this month, the Department of the Interior rescinded the memorandum and announced that it will move forward to process pending off-reservation gaming applications based on current federal law, according to a prepared statement from the Department of the Interior.
The Los Coyotes casino will have to undergo a “twopart test” in order to put the land — currently owned by BarWest Gaming Inc. — into federal trust and allow the casino to be constructed, Schaeffer said. Under the Indian Gaming and Regulation Act, the tribe must prove that off-reservation gaming is in the best interest of the tribe and is not detrimental to the surrounding community, and the governor also has to approve the project.