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Saturday, Jun 22, 2024

Gaming Local casinos experience growth and layoffs

The number of slot machines operating in San Diego County grows again this week as a new casino opens in the far reaches of East County.

Meanwhile, management of two North County casinos that opened this spring are facing the summer with fewer people on their payrolls.

Opening Aug. 15 is the Golden Acorn Casino & Travel Center. High on a hill along a remote stretch of Interstate 8, some 30 miles east of Alpine, the complex is in a strategic place to serve highway travelers as well as gamblers.

The Campo Band of Mission Indians has built the complex with the help of Reno-based First Nation Gaming.

The 35,000-square-foot casino floor houses 750 slot machines and a dozen table games.

The 60,000-square-foot building will also include a 220-seat restaurant.

Under the same roof will be a truck stop for highway travelers, though that portion of the project is not as far along as the casino. The developers promise showers, laundry and Internet access for truckers along with fuel pumps and a well-lighted parking lot.

A second building at the site, housing a 100-room hotel, may go up within five years, said a casino publicist. Total cost for the two-building complex will be $23 million, she said.

Layoffs In North County

In the North County, meanwhile, two casinos are operating following job cuts in June and July.

The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians’ new Valley View Casino laid off about 80 employees the week of July 23 and now has its payroll at about 500, said John Barbry, the casino’s vice president of marketing.

The casino opened in April. Managers there used market research to decide how many people to hire prior to opening, Barbry said. Since then, he said, management found it “necessary to adjust to the actual demands of the market,” and to set staff levels that would “ensure the financial success of the enterprise.”

Valley View sits close to three other casinos , Pala, Pauma and Rincon.

“The competition is fierce,” Barbry said.

Yet he added that San Diego is still an untapped market.

The new Casino Pauma, meanwhile, laid off about 25 percent of its 650 employees in June. The Pauma Band of Mission Indians opened the casino in May.

One published report attributed Pauma’s layoffs to the casino’s difficulty in getting a liquor license.

A second attributed them to financial troubles, though one casino worker said talk of financial problems was inaccurate.

Calls to the Pauma tribal office were referred to the casino. Managers at the casino did not return calls.

Long-term projects were on the minds of officials at other casinos.

Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. broke ground July 31 on a $125 million resort and casino in Valley Center. It is building a casino with 45,000 square feet of gaming space as well as a 200-room hotel for the Rincon Luise & #324;o Band of Mission Indians.

The Rincon casino is currently operating in temporary quarters. The new operation should open next autumn.

Viejas Casino near Alpine, meanwhile, announced a 10th anniversary celebration during this month and September. The casino employs 2,200.


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