Six San Diego casinos are getting a collective $1 billion infusion, which will go towards major remodelling, added amenities, and additional hotel rooms for the area. That’s more than half of the county’s 10 gaming venues, and shows that the fight to keep gamblers at home, rather than lose them to Las Vegas, is getting serious.

Pechanga San Diego $285 million expansion

San Diego’s expanding casino offerings: Pechanga Resort and Casino is undergoing a $285 renovation, just one of six casinos in the county to be upping their own game. (Image: Pechanga)

Southern California is a major demographic for Las Vegas’ marketing efforts, due it’s relative ease to get there via car or plane for a weekend or three-day holiday jaunt.

Trying to Keep Up

Valley View Casino, located not far from the airport, is clearly aiming to compete with Sin City attractions, bringing in big-name acts like Pink, Pitbull, and Sam Smith to its entertainment venue. But the gaming property is also adding a 42,000-square foot addition to its casino floor, while adding a new burger joint to its existing six options.

The boutique casino, which offers just 120 rooms and suites, and bills itself as a no-smoking, no-kids-allowed property, has plenty of competition to contend with in its own backyward, including the much-larger Pechanga and Harrah’s Resort Southern California.

The San Diego casino building boom will be welcome for locals, bringing as many 5,000 new jobs in with the expansions, although the majority of those will be in the construction arena, with Pechanga alone claiming it will be needing 3,000 workers to carry out its $285 million extension.

Viejas Casino and Resort will generate 750 positions, while Pala Casino Hotel and Resort officials say they’re bringing in 400 construction jobs and 200 new resort employment opportunties.

Economic Comeback

Earlier this week, Pala broke ground on a $170 million expansion that will add a 349-room hotel tower, an aquatic playground, enlarged spa, more casino floor space, and a parking garage.

Pala CEO Bill Bembenek echoed the general movement among casinos, including those in Las Vegas and Macau, towards broader options than gambling alone.

“The consumer has changed to some degree, and the demands … necessitate an all-encompassing recreational experience. We’ve come out on the other side of the great recession, the economy has healed, and people are looking for ways to spend their recreational dollars,” Bembenek said in a statement.

A $285 million expansion includes a new hotel tower, which makes Pechanga the biggest casino hotel in California. The mega-resort is also installing a 4-acre pool complex, with eight pools and spas and a stand-alone spa offering 17 treatments. The 568-room tower is expected to open in December.

Sycuan Casino is spending $226 million to build its first hotel, a 300-room high-end tower, new restaurants, and an additional 60,000 square feet of gaming space. Like the others, lifestyle activities will play a big role in the renovation, with an eight-acre pool complex, spa, and fitness center.

The new year is set to bring a new, all-suites tower to Viejas Casino and Resort. The project also includes an expanded casino floor, a pool and outdoor bar, full-service day spa and fitness center, an entertainment venue, and restaurants. Viejas hasn’t released details on the cost of the upgrades.

Harrah’s wrapped up the final phase of its $160 million expansion in June.