by Terence Baker | June 01, 2004

Illustration: Roulette wheelCasinos: 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 Nevada border.
    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. 
     Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs, CaliforniaLast 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 meeting space.
    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.