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Plan on Twin Casino on Barstow, California was rejected by its residents.

The government of Barstow California needs to approve the land for use as an Indian-owned casino. Both houses of the California Legislature need to approve the compacts with the state. The rejection of Measure H by Barstow residents by an 81 percent to 19 percent vote was an initial step in showing support for bring casino gaming to San Bernardino County's high desert.

Voters in the high desert community last week rejected a referendum that would have stopped two Indian tribes from building side-by-side casinos in Barstow, near the city's well-visited outlet malls off Interstate 15.

The tribal casinos in Barstow, California have taken another step toward gaining a footing about 120 miles west of the Nevada border.

The California's governor and the tribes have already signed agreements and are going through additional state and federal OKs, could start building their twin casino by late 2007 or early 2008 if all of the approvals are met.

Tom Shields, a spokesman for MarWest, a Michigan-based company that would manage the casinos said, "We're about six months into the 18-month process with the (U.S.) Department of Interior,"

Measure H would have killed the proposed casino site off Lenwood Road next to the Factory Merchants at Barstow outlet center, which was backed by a third tribe that is lobbying for its own casino site.

"What the vote showed was that Barstow residents clearly want the project and the economic benefit it would bring to the community," Shields said. "We think this vote sends a message to lawmakers and others."

Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale said in a statement that defeating the anti-casino measure will influence California lawmakers, who are scheduled to discuss the tribal agreements this summer. "This comes at a perfect time as the Legislature is prepared to take up the compacts," Dale said. "Our community's support is no longer in question."

The Los Coyotes Band of Cahuilla and Cupeno Indians from San Diego County and the Big Lagoon Rancheria Band of Humboldt County had a plan unveiled last year that would build twin casinos on 47 acres near Barstow's outlet malls. 3,700 jobs were expected to provide by the Barstow officials and at least $175 million annually to the Barstow area land for a casino.

The critics says this move, which has been dubbed "reservation shopping" has happened throughout the United States because it allows Indian tribes without land the same opportunities for economic development as tribes with large reservations.

Barstow city leaders have viewed the casino project as a way to tap into gaming dollars that might be headed to the three MGM Mirage-run casinos in Primm, which bumps the state line. Through April, an average of 38,000 vehicles a day passed through Barstow on the way to Las Vegas. Gaming analysts have given little credence that a casino in Barstow would cut into Las Vegas visitation.

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