Casinos: Call them the great glitzy hope
of municipalities from Connecticut to California. Call the
building of them a great tidal wheel of fortune rolling across the
Alleghenies and the Great Plains, leaving in its wake a trail of
glittering new palaces devoted to games of chance. With the
powerful lure of gaming revenues and related tourism spending, plus
the increasing realization that if Region A doesn’t jump on the
wagering bandwagon, Region B, right on the other side of the river,
will, America is on an inexorable and unrepentant jackpot jag.
Following is a guide to some of the latest developments in the
sport of kings and queens, and jacks...
The Golden State has seen a burst of activity following the passage
of Proposition 1A in 2000, which legalized Las Vegas-style gaming.
Currently, more than 50 recognized Native American groups offer
gaming in California, and more action is arriving from across the
For example, Las Vegas heavyweight Caesars Entertainment
(formerly known as Park Place Entertainment) is helping the
Pauma-Yuima Band of Mission Indians develop a 500-room hotel-casino
in California’s Pauma Valley. To be called Caesars
Pauma, the $250 million resort will cover 30 acres. Plans
call for 100,000 square feet of casino space, as well as a spa and
several showrooms and restaurants. No timeline or further details
have been given.
Meanwhile, just west of Palm Springs, the $250 million
Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa will open in
November. The 44-acre, 659,800-square-foot property will rise 23
stories and offer a 310-room hotel, four nightclubs and sizeable
convention facilities, among other attractions.
Last November, the Spa Resort Casino
in Palm Springs (below) turned what could only be described as a
casino tent into a plush $95 million, 130,000-square-foot Las
Vegas-style casino. The resort’s owners, the Agua Caliente Band of
Cahuilla Indians, spent a further $2.3 million renovating the
accompanying older hotel’s 228 guest rooms in a style labeled
“desert contemporary.” In addition to a showroom, a casino, two
bars and four restaurants, the resort offers 6,000 square feet of
In nearby Indio, the Fantasy Springs Casino,
run by the Carazon Band of Mission Indians, will open a 12-story,
250-room hotel and a 100,000-square-foot events center in January
2005. Meeting space will include a 44,460-square-foot exhibit hall,
a 3,400-square-foot ballroom and eight meeting rooms, all able to
host up to 5,550 people.
In the San Diego area, Harrah’s Rincon Casino &
Resort, which opened in August 2002, is adding a new hotel
tower with 449 rooms, for a guest room count of 650. Owned by the
Rincon San Luiseño Band of Mission Indians, the resort will finish
the expansion which will include a 10,000-square-foot events
pavilion at the end of this year.
Fifty miles north of San Diego in Temecula, the 522-room
Pechanga Resort & Casino is undergoing a
413,000-square-foot expansion. Already offering 40,000 square feet
of meeting space, the resort will add three more levels, a
smoke-free casino section, a two-story restaurant and bar, and a
nightclub, among other attractions. Work is due to finish this
December. On the drawing board are plans to add a golf course.