Pechanga, San Manuel Casinos Close Until April as Coronavirus Saps California Gaming Industry

Posted on: March 15, 2020, 12:27h. 

Last updated on: March 16, 2020, 09:32h.

Pechanga Casino and San Manuel Casino, two California’s largest tribal casinos, are closing through the end of this month because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, the latest sign the pandemic is punishing the gaming industry across the US.

Pechanga is one of two California tribal casinos closing because of the COVID-19 outbreak. (Image: LinkedIn)

Pechanga, which is operated by the tribal band of the same name, is located in Temecula, Calif., while San Manuel is in Highland, Calif. Both cities are in Riverside County, east of Los Angeles. San Manuel is operated by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. A dozen residents of the county are currently receiving treatment for COVID-19.

The health and safety of our guests, team members, and Tribal Citizens is our highest priority. We have volunteered to temporarily suspend casino operations effective at 5 p.m. on Sunday, March 15th through the end of the month,” according to a San Manuel statement sent to Casino.org. “In consultation with the State of California and in consideration of the Governor’s guidance on large gatherings, we feel this is the best course of action for our community.”

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) issued an executive order limiting non-essential gatherings “to no more than 250 people.” The directive didn’t specifically mention casinos or popular Golden State tourist destinations, such as Disneyland in Anaheim. In fact, it was believed the happiest place on earth was exempt from the plan due in part to its status as Orange County’s largest employer. But on Friday, Disney voluntarily shuttered the park on a temporary basis.

Big Closures…Literally

Pechanga has 5,000 slot machines, 130 table games, and one of the largest poker areas in Southern California spread across 200,000 square feet, making it one of the biggest gaming venues in the Western US while exceeding the size of any found in Las Vegas.

“As a Tribal Government and major employer of thousands of people, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily close Pechanga Resort Casino for the health and safety of our Team Members, Tribal Members, and guests due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro in a statement.

San Manuel has over 4,900 slots, more than 100 table games, and has some of the highest table limits among all California tribal gaming properties.

Both tribes are pledging to pay employees during the temporary closures.

More Closures Coming?

Gaming venues from coast to coast have either voluntarily closed or are temporarily shutting down because of state directives stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Saturday night, there was nothing on the web site of Moronga Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif. to suggest that venue will be closing. But some entertainment acts there have been postponed.

Other tribal casinos in the region, including Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Harrah’s Resort Southern California, and Soboba Casino Resort, had not announced coronavirus-related closures as of midnight March 15.

As of Friday, the Golden State had about 250 cases of the respiratory illness and six deaths stemming from it.