Thursday, Aug. 23, 2001 | 10:50 a.m.
THERMAL, Calif. -- The Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla tribe has ended a 6-year relationship with Las Vegas-based Full House Resorts Inc., the group that tried to help it land a casino.
Full House has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on unsuccessful attempts to bring gambling to the tribe's reservation. The lack of results led to the recent membership vote to sever the relationship.
"We are not going anywhere right now. I think it is a good time to do it," said tribal Chairwoman Mary Belardo, adding the decision wouldn't further delay casino plans. The tribe will issue a public request for new proposals shortly, she said.
"Full House is more than welcome to participate," she said. "We are just going to clear the slate."
The Torres-Martinez have short-term plans to build a small casino and truck stop close to Highway 86 near the Salton Sea and long-term plans to acquire land near Coachella for a casino near Interstate 10.
But those plans are on hold because the tribe cannot convince Gov. Gray Davis to sign a gambling compact that would allow the tribe to build the casinos.
"We have done everything we could. (The tribe) asked to handle the compact issue completely by themselves," Full House attorney Mary Brennan said.
A trust fund from deceased Coachella Valley businessman Allen Paulson owns 30 percent of Full House. Desert businessmen Lee Iacocca and William McComas each own approximately 13 percent of the business, according to company reports.