Penn National Gaming, which operates 35 gambling centers across the country, and Jamul Indian Village announced the completion of a $36 million site excavation, the first phase in constructing a long-contested casino in East County.
Despite a series of lawsuits that sought to block the construction, ground broke on the project in early 2014.
The lawsuits, including one from Jamul tribal members, contend that bodies and cremated remains were improperly removed from graves during construction, that the construction is damaging a nearby wildlife preserve, and even that the site should not be federally recognized as tribal land eligible for placement of a gaming facility.
Construction crews spent the last ten months moving over 452,000 tons of earth to make way for the 200,000-square-foot three-story casino and subterranean parking garage.
According to a company release, "the exterior will feature earth tones and downcast lighting to integrate with the surrounding area, while the interior will blend tasteful but glamorous elements from Hollywood’s Golden Era," and the project will also include "state-of-the-art water reclamation treatment and reuse technology to conserve resources and improve groundwater quality."
Despite the exterior architecture, designed to appease locals fearful of a bright, gaudy structure, many continue to express concerns about noise and, particularly, traffic associated with the facility. State Route 94, the area's main thoroughfare, is already believed by locals to be overburdened with existing traffic.
Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego, the name currently attached to the project, is slated to open sometime in 2016. Total construction costs are estimated to be $360 million.