As the state tiptoes back into reopening, two tribal casinos in San Diego County have announced reopening dates after temporarily closing months ago to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Sycuan Casino Resort, near El Cajon, has announced that it will reopen at noon Wednesday, May 20, and Valley View Casino & Hotel, near Valley Center, will reopen at 8 a.m. Friday, May 22.

Each will have been closed for two months. Sycuan closed March 20 and Valley View shuttered March 22.

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Sycuan’s announcement noted that the resort would reopen in phases.

“We are slowly opening select venues and gaming areas in phase one of our reopening and will continue to evaluate our reopening strategy to maintain a safe environment for all,” Cody J. Martinez, Chairman, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation said in the statement posted to the resort’s website.

Only some of the resort’s food options will be open to start and those will have limited hours. The ones that will be open include Double-Down Grill, House of Fortune, Rank & File and Hangry’s Sunset Deli and Pizza, according to the announcement. To-go orders will be available as well as limited sit-down dining service to allow for physical distancing.

The statement says every other slot machines will be turned off and table games will be limited to three players per table, but bingo and poker will be closed for the initial phase.

Sycuan also plans to use a self-cleaning antimicrobial coating throughout the property, thermal cameras at entrances for temperature detection, mark the floors to adhere to physical distancing, adding plexiglass shields and more.

Valley View’s reopening announcement noted that the hotel, casino and restaurants would open on May 22 and noted what guests would need to do to enter.

“In addition to offering our guests a much more spacious casino, restaurants and hotel, we have taken many other precautionary measures that you will notice when you return including requiring all of our guests to please be prepared to have on an appropriate face mask before entering into our casino,” Bruce Howard, Valley View’s general manager, wrote in a letter posted to the casino’s website.

Beyond the face mask note, the letter did not detail other precautionary measures or cleaning protocol.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-stage plan for reopening California is underway and is now in the second stage. Some counties outside of Southern California have gotten the OK for restaurants to begin opening dining rooms to customers with extensive safety guidelines.

Since many of Southern California’s casinos are on tribal land, state’s regulatory laws generally do not apply because the tribes have a measure of sovereignty.

However, many of the region’s casinos remain closed, as they have been for months.

In Riverside County, Pechanga Resort Casino near Temecula announced that tribal officials are targeting June 1 as a reopening date. Pechanga’s reopening plan detailed steps the employees would be taking as well as limiting the amount of slot machines and positions at table games for guests.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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