Hard Rock Tejon Breaks Ground on $600M California Development

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A landmark development began recently in Kern County, California, with the groundbreaking of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tejon.

This ambitious plan to add to the list of California casinos is a collaboration between Hard Rock International and the local Tejon Indian Tribe.

The $600 million development, located on Tejon Tribal land south of Bakersfield, Calif., started construction late last week. It is expected to open its first phase in 2025. The resort will feature a 150,000- square-foot casino floor in the first phase, and will add a 400-room hotel tower and event space in a second phase.

“This is an exciting day for the state of California, Kern County, and the Tejon Indian Tribe,” said Octavio Escobedo III, chair of the Tejon Indian Tribe, in a press release.

“This groundbreaking is a symbolic ceremony for the Tribe, which was landless for more than 150 years, and has been a priority for us since we were reaffirmed as a federally recognized Indian tribe. Today, we are one major step closer to the dream of self-determination through economic development.”

Economic Impact and Features

The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tejon represents a significant investment in the local economy, estimated at $600 million.

Once operational, the casino’s development is expected to create around 2,000 construction jobs, as well as 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Spanning 700,000 square feet, the resort will feature 2,500 slot games, 48 table games, and dozens of video poker terminals. It will also have multiple dining options, including a Hard Rock Cafe and Council Oak Steaks and Seafood.

The project’s first phase is set to open in 2025, with a second phase to include a 400-room hotel and a 2,800-seat Hard Rock Live event venue. The second phase will also add more retail spaces, as well as a pool and a spa area, to fully cement the venue as a casino resort.

As California sports betting is not legal, despite ongoing efforts to revive the idea once again, there will be no retail sports betting at the Tejon venue.

California Tribal Casinos Expand

Amid the booming U.S. gambling market in 2023, Tribal casinos are also doing big business.

Hard Rock, which broke ground on the Tejon collaboration property this week, is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who recently launched Florida sports betting with an effective monopoly on the market.

The Seminoles are the biggest Tribal gambling operators, but others have also been making moves. The Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut recently announced impressive 2023 results, as well as expanding internationally with the opening of its Mohegan Inspire casino resort venue in Incheon, South Korea.

On a national level, the most popular U.S. Tribal casino market is California.

Only tribal casinos in Oklahoma are more numerous than California’s, and the Golden State is way ahead in revenues and economic impact by a long shot.

California’s 70 or so Tribal casinos saw revenues of $11 billion for the year of 2022, which was a record high. That resulted in around $3 billion in payments to the state.

Developing projects like Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon will be hoping these successes continue into 2024 and beyond.

“Hard Rock is proud to partner with the Tejon Indian Tribe on creating a world-class entertainment destination,” said Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International.

“The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tejon property will be another incredible offering in our West Coast portfolio, and we are committed to supporting the local community and creating a lasting positive economic impact for the State of California.”

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