San Manuel Tribe Donates $14M to Claremont Graduate University

Posted on: December 8, 2020, 12:06h. 

Last updated on: December 8, 2020, 01:37h.

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has given $14 million to Claremont Graduate University in Southern California to build a research facility that will be called the Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies.

San Manuel casino California university
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chair Ken Ramirez (left) presents a $14 million check to Claremont Graduate University President Len Jessup (right). Onlooking is San Manuel Business Committee Member Johnny Hernandez. (Image: San Manuel Band of Mission Indians)

The tribe’s economic stability is largely based on its San Manuel Casino, located in Highland, Calif., some 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. And once again, the tribe is donating a substantial amount of its gaming revenue.

The health center will facilitate collaboration among Claremont researchers, scientists, and outside partners to address health and well-being challenges. It will especially examine issues prevalent in underserved and vulnerable populations throughout the Inland Empire and Indian country.

“In our role as stewards of our ancestral lands, we support our neighboring communities, in addition to our Tribe. Our gift is an investment in future healthier communities and one we are happy to make,” said San Manuel Tribal Chair Ken Ramirez.

Winning for Nonprofits

No state has more tribal gaming than California.

According to a 2018 report by the American Gaming Association (AGA), the Golden State has 74 tribal gaming facilities. California tribal casinos support nearly 125,000 jobs and deliver an annual economic impact of approximately $20 billion (in a non-pandemic year).

For tribes that operate Class III gaming — table games and slot machines — they must enter into gaming compacts with the state. Revenue sharing payments from such agreements deliver California around $3.5 billion each year.

The San Manuel Casino’s workforce numbers 3,000 people, making it one of the largest employers in the region. The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians says on its website that it “dedicates significant resources from gaming to various philanthropic causes.”

This week’s $14 million contribution is evidence of the tribe’s charitable commitment. It follows a $9 million donation to the UNLV hospitality and law schools that the tribe announced in February. The $9 million is being used to develop a program focused on tribal gaming law.

San Manuel is one of many California tribes that uses its casino money to support good causes. Earlier this fall, the Graton Rancheria Tribe, owner and operator of the Graton Resort & Casino some 40 miles north of San Francisco, directed $15 million to the Native Nations Law and Policy Center at UCLA.

Casino Expansion

The San Manuel Casino floor measures 100,000 square feet and features 5,000 slot machines and 130 table games.

The casino is amid a more than half a billion-dollar expansion that will bring a 500-room hotel tower to the property. New restaurants, as well as a 4,000-seat concert space and a parking garage with 2,200 spots, are also in the works.

The San Manuel tribe owns and operates the Bear Springs Hotel, which has 105 guestrooms but is located several blocks from the casino.