San Diego Area Casinos Ready to Reopen, Despite Raised Eyebrows from Local Leaders

Following a two-month hiatus caused by the global coronavirus outbreak, several casinos in the San Diego area are now ramping up preparations to resume operations this week.

Viejas Casino and Resort in Alpine, California is set to reopen today at 8 am local time. The property’s staff and visitors will be required to follow new cleaning protocols and guidelines in a bid to curb the spread of the dangerous virus.

One of these new rules involves both employees and guests of the resort to submit to a non-contact temporal scan prior to entering the property.

The gambling venue, which is managed by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, closed doors more than two months ago along with other gambling properties in the area (and the rest of California and the United States) in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic.

Viejas Casino will be closing every day from 3-7 am for a deep cleaning and sterilization treatment across the entire property.

Guests of the casino resort will be required to practice social distancing and wear face masks around the property.

The resort’s General Manager, James Wild, said last week that while they have always “maintained the highest level of cleanliness and safety”, they have taken advantage of their two-month closure to “inspect, clean, and sanitize every inch of the property.”

Other properties in the region that are set to resume operations in the next few days include Sycuan Casino Resort, which has set a May 20 reopening date, Jamul Casino, which will reopen on May 21, and Valley View Casino & Hotel, which will begin welcoming visitors on May 22.

Concerns over Casino Reopenings

Casinos are preparing to resume operations despite recent concerns raised by local leaders
that it might be too early for casino businesses to be allowed to reopen, while other industries remain closed in the face of Covid-19.

Health officials said last week that they were working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent the gambling properties from reopening too soon.

Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said last week that “opening up casinos will cause a risk to our public’s health and that they “want to make it perfectly clear that [they] do not agree with the reopening of casinos.”

Additionally, California Governor Gavin Newsom sent a letter to San Diego-area tribal chiefs late last week, urging them to reconsider their decision to open their properties and wait until surrounding jurisdictions meet Phase 3 criteria for reopening.

However, even though leaders might think that it is too early for tribal casinos to reopen, they have limited ability to restrict gambling on Indian reservations as these areas have tribal sovereignty, as codified by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

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