San Diego casinos set
for expansion in 2007

Jan 2, 2007 5:49 AM

Tribal casinos in the San Diego area are expected to expand significantly in 2007.

The county has eight casinos, which are raking in an estimated $2 billion annually, according to the San Diego Business Journal, although American Indian casinos decline to release revenue stats to the news media.

The casinos are expected to expand as Californians continue to embrace gaming. "Many Californians love to gamble at casinos," wrote Los Angeles economist Alan Meister in his 2006-07 Indian Gaming Industry Report, published by Casino City Press. The report says California casino revenue grew by 24 percent between 2004 and 2005, to $7.2 billion. The state had 57 casinos then.

Here are how some tribes plan to expand in 2007, according to the SD Business Journal.

Sycuan: In Sacramento, the Legislature is expected to vote soon on a new gaming compact inked in August by Sycuan and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among other provisions, the deal would allow Sycuan to have 5,000 slot machines, up from 2,000.

One option Sycuan has is to build a new casino. Some in the community have circulated a petition against expanded gaming at Sycuan.

Jamul: There is no casino in Jamul, and many community residents are fighting the prospect of one. Nevertheless, the leader of the Jamul Indian Village is talking about construction starting as early as February.

Urban Design Group Inc. of Dallas has designed a casino-hotel complex that would fit on the 6-acre American Indian reservation off Route 94. A casino, parking garage, fire station and various measures to mitigate traffic and environmental concerns would cost in the range of $200 million, said tribal Chairman Leon Acebedo. He said a subsequent addition, a 12-story hotel, would push total construction costs higher than $250 million.

Golden Acorn: For now this is a casino and truck stop. Soon it will be a place to spend the night. The Campo Kumeyaay Nation expects to break ground on a 150-room hotel in the spring (following the completion of an environmental report) and open the place in August 2008. The cost of the project was undisclosed. In addition to the three-story hotel, Golden Acorn plans to add on a steakhouse, a poker room and an 80-seat sports bar. More phases are planned, according to a county report.

Barona: Barona management will definitely add a new Italian restaurant and is thinking of two or three other concepts. Also coming is a culinary institute, where classes will be held in cooperation with Grossmont College.

Harrah’s Rincon: Harrah’s has installed a new second-floor ballroom to accommodate events. In the summer, it plans to introduce poolside table games.

Pauma: The Pauma Band of Mission Indians, which runs Casino Pauma, announced plans for a new casino and 500-room hotel to be built in conjunction with the Mashantucket Pequot tribe of Connecticut. The $300 million project would require two years of construction.

Pala: Construction of a $100 million expansion at the Pala Casino Spa Resort is expected to begin in June and wrap up in mid-2008. The main building housing the casino, restaurants and administrative offices will grow from 182,000 to 250,000 square feet, and from 2,274 slot machines to 2,524. The venue will add a Mexican restaurant. Rooms in the hotel tower will be renovated and the Western parking structure will get additions on two sides.