FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The first shovel of dirt was turned for a new casino in the South Valley.
After 25 years, Eagle Mountain Casino is starting a new chapter. The casino officially broke ground in Porterville -- a big win not only for the casino but also the Tule River Tribe.
Eagle Mountain Casino's General Manager Matthew Mingrone said, "It's more than just slot machines and table games. It's really about water first and foremost and the well-being of the tribal members."
Mingrone said the original casino uses 40,000 gallons of water every day, which is enough for about 80 homes.
This new location will free up more of that water so more tribal members can move back on the reservation - a goal they've had for decades.
During Tuesday's ceremony -- The Tule River Native Veterans Post 1987 conducted the presentation of colors -- along with prayers and sacred songs.
Tribal leaders say it will be a boost to the economy but the actual building is also designed to restore to the earth.
Tule River Tribal Vice Chairman Neil Peyron said this casino is a long time coming.
"It's way more than just a casino. This is education for our children, this is housing for our elders, this is medical care for members of the tribe," Peyron said. "It allows people to get employed, get that work history, allow them to build their credit history, allow them to take care of themselves and their families and feel good about it. It's not a handout, it's a hand up."
The casino is expected to create more than 300 construction jobs and an additional 200 jobs in casino operations.
The relocation to Porterville will also offer a more centralized location for casino guests.
Mingrone said, "We are going to have a sports bar and grill, a 2,000-seat events center and we are going to have a great locals destination."
The tribe has chosen HBG as the design firm for their new casino.
The casino will be relocated about 20 miles from its former location, now to the Reservations' 40 acres located near the Porterville Airport off Highway 65.
The casino is slated to open in December of 2022.
Eagle Mountain Casino breaks ground on new Porterville location
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