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Today: My visit to the Tortoise Rock Casino was staggering

By   /   March 29, 2014  /   10 Comments

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The casino is open today for everyone until 5:00 p.m.

Chief Red Cloud

Since I was in town, I spend 10 minutes inside. The tobacco smoke bolts you over. The place is so packed with slots, hardly room for anything else. The sit-down eating place is dank, small and in one corner of the casino. You see no food or food handlers. Basically all you see are Spartan-looking tables. IMHO the sparse sandwich table area is depressing. More of a place for a quick uneventful sit for quick sandwich, then back to the bar or big room packed with wall-to-wall with slots.

If you eat healthy, be advised there are only meat sandwiches and other stuff. The salads I saw one individual picking at was not very appetizing looking…the presentation was awful looking. That tiny depressing area off to the side was a shock. If you have plans to try out the food, go to burger king or the great 29 Palms family Carousal restaurant. That’s where I met someone for lunch today. Gotta say staff and the food handlers are so very friendly and eager to please.

Chief Sitting Bull

I am only reporting what I saw. I have stayed out of the casino’s business and the town supporting the casino. I have kept my views to myself, but concrete, cement, asphalt, rebar, building materials, massive parking lots shall never take the place of Indian land nestled up against the park.

What would the great great Nez Perce Chief Joseph (my hero) think, or Chief Seattle (who delivered one of the of greatest and eloquence orations in human history), Red Cloud (warrior extraordinaire who fought the white man greed and lies with a vengeance), Cochise (staged an uprising to resist intrusions by American), Crazy Horse (who led 1,500 Lakota and Cheyenne in a surprise attack against General George Crook’s force of 1,000, Geronimo (who defended his people against the encroachment of the US on their tribal lands), Sitting Bull (Lakota medicine man and holy man famous in both American and Native American history mostly for his major victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn against one evil bastard called Custer)? Would they all be puzzled or disappointed over the paving and encroachment upon the 460 acres of native next to JTNP?

Some money will trickle down to city hall and schools, but mostly money in the larger run will be sucked out of the community. Very depressing inside the casino.

Based on available information, a few years ago the 29 Palms Band of Indians consisted of 13 Tribe Indians.

Isn’t it time to bring the TPFD up to the level it was before they ran out of money. City Hall supports the casino (as they should) but in  rhetoric only. They lack the courage to fund it — even though the city gets money back from the county from taxpayers for public safety. The 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians and their casino really needs a funded fire department to protect all of their patrons 24/7.

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  • Published: 4 months ago on March 29, 2014
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  • Last Modified: March 30, 2014 @ 4:44 pm
  • Filed Under: Opinion

About the author

Branson Hunter

(This story was posted by Cactus Thorn contributor Branson Hunter)

"The ends do not justify the means." If you use illegal mean to accomplish a legal and even desirable result, the good result does not make the bad means you used justifiable.


  1. Ed Montgomery Ed Montgomery says:

    My main concern is job and I hope it will help the economy, but we will have to wait and see on that, what the final outcome will be.

    I personally don’t go to the casinos very much, but one of these days I might take a run down to the casino and see what it looks like.

    • Ed,

      When you return from your trip to the casino, be prepared to take a shower and place your clothing in a plastic bag IF the cigarette smoke is that overwhelming. Oh yes, place plastic to cover the seats of your new vehicle…or else you lose that “new car smell.”

      I can’t believe people are still smoking cigarettes…Yes, I know..freedom of choice..bla-bla.

  2. Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

    Well I hope they make enough to pay for Gary’s new sign…….

  3. michaelv michaelv says:

    realizing that they are never going to pull in the patrons that the casino’s do down the hill, the Tribe did what they could to help the finances of the 13 members. Spend as little as one can,and cram it full of slot machines. Maybe the eating area will get better once they work it out, I almost said get the bugs out, but that didn’t sound to good.
    As far as the city, Not sure how that worked into your review of the casino, however, like the whole theatre 29 fiasco, it is all history at this point and the need is to look forward to those willing to step up to the plate and take charge of the city and bring it back from the spiral it is now in.

    • Hi MICHAELV,

      I added in the fire department because every casino and their patrons rely on public safety and an adequately funded fire department. I know… we all believe Base Fire and J.T. County fire will always there for the casino.

      What if Base and County fire are occupied with their own emergencies…today there was a sizable earthquake in SoCal with plenty of damage. What if that would happen here. Base will be locked down, J.T. County fire will have their own to serve. In this situation, what if the TPFD were deployed on another emergency in Indian Cove or somewhere on a dirt road in Northern Desert Heights and the casino has a major emergency?

      The mutual aid between Base and County Fire is a one-sided affair because it’s not reciprocal when the TPFD has to remain in city limits to protect schools, businesses, residents, etc. Can the TPFD just leave town to mutually aid a fire in JT?

      As far as expanding the sandwich area in the northwest end of the casino, there is no room for expansion. Some of those slots will have to be removed.

      • michaelv michaelv says:

        I totally agree with your statement, I really do, It just seemed like after your review of the casino as an after thought, You threw in the comment about the fire department. My belief is that before they allow any future commercial building in the City or it’s area of influence they must bring the fire department up to a standard that would not rely on outside help from departments that may not be able to help during an emergency. If I was an owner of one of the hotels, I would be worried right now as to how their patrons would be safe in the event of a fire. The monstrosity Holiday Inn Express that the city let slide in is a great example of a disaster waiting to happen. The entire city is at risk, I mention the hotels because the people staying there have no clue as to the situation the residence live in everyday.
        Great articles, keep up the good work!

        • Is that the hotel that was allowed to be built without a ladder fire truck to reach the top floor…or something like that? What ever happened to the fire truck costs foisted on the water department by the city to mitigate that error?

          I ask because in Yucca Valley they approved a 3 story senior housing complex without a ladder truck capable to reach the third floor…that is, for evacuation purposes.

          • michaelv michaelv says:

            Correct Margo, just a little error on the part of the engineering department which like everything else is outsourced. If you remember the makers of the new truck made a color error and wanted to refund the Fire Department $95K if they would take a red truck. Unfortunately they wanted yellow so bad they gave up the refund for another paint job.
            Now this is third party information about the paint, but yes the citizens got hit for a new truck because of an error by staff.

        • Hi michaelv,

          You’re correct. The fire issue was was thrown in as an after sight.

          I agree with you: “The entire city is at risk”. What is puzzling is Base and County Fire mutual aid program is tolerating a situation wherein they they have no reciprocity from the TPFD because nobody wants to fund it. It’s all about not rocking the boat and the Board of Supervisors doesn’t want to rock the boat.

          Though the TPWD has responsibility to oversee the city’s fire protection, the TPWD by law cannot fund the fire department.

          When the city was incorporated decades ago, that worked. But this is the Twenty 21st Century, things have changed. That is why change is very important on the city council because its members are living in the past. And living the good life spending public funds like some of Wall Street’s biggest scammers with no accountability or public input.

          It’s befuddling that the city gets money for public safety, but they blow it in the candy store. It’s not a big deal to partner with the TPWD and help pay for critical public safety.

          Should there be a four alarm casino fire , hotel fire, or at any one of the many schools in city limits, and mutual aid Base and County fire was out on other calls, there would be a large tar pot seething over, and a bunch of pillows would be ripped open for a tar and feather event.

  4. Ed Montgomery Ed Montgomery says:

    According to my sources of employees, it actually act Tortoise Rock Casino they are allowing people to smoke inside the casino, therefore, I will never set foot inside that casino as long as there are allowing people to smoke inside. I know there’s a lot more people that don’t smoke. I will not jeopardize my health to go to that casino. Also according to my sources they are looking for a new job because they don’t smoke either it is actually making my sources sick to work here.

    This casino is off to a very bad start to allow people to smoke inside the casino! I understand this is on Indian land and they can do whatever they want, as long as they allow smoking in the casino they will lose a lot of business!

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