California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has granted a permanent license for the Jamul Indian Village to serve alcohol at its Hollywood Casino Jamul-San Diego, after a recent ruling issued by California Administrative Law Judge Adam Berg.
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Despite objections from thousands of Jamul residents, including San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who is in her seventh term and serves District 2, on Wednesday, October 25, Judge Adam Berg issued a ruling stating that the casino can serve alcohol, with his decision effective Nov. 24, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune.
Operated by Penn National Gaming, the casino is located on land belonging to the Jamul Indian Village, located off State Highway 94 about 10 miles southeast of El Cajon in southern California. Hollywood Casino opened on October 10, 2016, with a temporary license to serve alcohol. The casino, which is open around the clock, serves alcohol from 10am to 1:30am.
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“We are pleased that Judge Berg recognized our commitment to responsible beverage service and to keeping our guests and the community safe,” said Erica Pinto, tribal Chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village. “We know that serving alcohol is a serious responsibility, and one that we do not take lightly,”
Pinto went on to say that the tribe and the casino remain committed to road improvements and “are working on right-of-ways.” The Chairwoman said they “have a lot of security” and a “collective effort from the tribe and a commitment to keeping the area safe,” according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, Jacob reportedly said that the judge’s decision “is a big slap in the face to the community,” and, “The fact is that this big, bad mistake of a casino has made driving on the dangerous state highway even more risky.”
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For several years opponents of the gaming venue have claimed that due to traffic and general safety issues, the casino should not be allowed a permanent license to sell liquor. The casino has been under fire long before its inception, with the Jamul Action Committee protesting against the Jamul Indian Village and Hollywood Casino since 1988. Early this year, Administrative Law Judge John W. Lewis, who in November of 2016, presided over two state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control hearings, recused himself out of concern that emails he received regarding whether the Jamul Indian Village is a proper tribe, could prevent a fair hearing.
The liquor license was reportedly protested by the Sheriff’s Department, the County of San Diego, thousands of residents and the Jamul-Dulzura Union School District. According to the news agency, the majority of the objections were regarding the effect the casino and liquor sales there could have on the rural, winding, two-lane stretch of state Route 94; the primary access to Jamul.
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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports it was noted in Berg’s ruling that “protestants raised legitimate concerns with the impact the casino and alcoholic beverage service might have on the surrounding area.” However, he said, “a preponderance of evidence” demonstrated that the license is “not contrary to the public welfare or morals.”