Edit ModuleShow Tags

Strike it Rich!


(page 1 of 4)

This nation’s initial attempt to “accommodate” Native Americans was a story of Johnny-come-latelies doling out parcels of property to the people who owned it all in the first place. Most of the properties dealt back to the American Indians were less than prime.

To find Indian reservations in San Diego County, you have to drive the back roads or flip through the less familiar pages of your Thomas Brothers map book. But you can also see tribal names—and what they offer—on billboards along virtually any arterial highway. Or you can catch their commercials a few times an hour on the tube.

What is it they offer? Casinos.

The Mission Indians—so named, obviously, by the Johnny-come-latelies who often misused and abused the native residents —broke off into a handful of separate bands. A look at the Barona Band of Mission Indians is a look at the roots of many or all of these bands. The Barona Band split from the nearby (as the crow flies) Viejas Band in 1932 and settled in a pastoral valley a bit northeast of Lakeside. Each tribal family was given a wagon, two horses and five cows by the federal government. Remember, this was 1932! And that was wagon, as in horse-drawn.

The concept was that these people would take their “windfall” and find a way to live off the land. Without taking a Micheneresque approach—following generations through heartbreaks and hardships—suffice it to say there would come a day when San Diego’s true native sons struck a mother lode on their land.

It started slowly at first, with the realization that an Indian reservation was a sovereign place. White man–made laws could be set aside, particularly those pertaining to games of chance.

Gambling would become a bonanza. San Diego as a whole could not turn itself into Las Vegas or Atlantic City. But the progeny of those Mission Indians have built oases of gaming off the I-8 corridor to the east and the I-15 corridor to the north. They have come a long way from a wagon, two horses and five cows. The land, or what they have built on that land, now works for them.

The Barona, Viejas and Sycuan casinos have been fixtures in the foothills east of San Diego for a decade. Even farther east, Golden Acorn sputtered to life in August. Earlier this year, “Casino Row”—Pala, Pauma, Rincon and Valley View—sprung up in a loop east of Escondido.

Count ’em ... that’s eight casinos in San Diego County.

Though the door to tribal gambling has been ajar for a few years, Proposition 1A kicked it wide open. Walk out of the blistering summer heat into any of these air-conditioned tribal casinos, and you would be hard-pressed to say for sure that you had not been mileage-warped into Nevada.

Indeed, there are now almost 12,000 pinging, ringing, Elvis-singing slot machines in San Diego County. There are almost 300 tables for blackjack, poker, pai gow, et al. Three casinos offer satellite wagering, and two offer bingo. One casino already has an affiliated hotel, two have hotels under construction, and three others have them on the drawing boards.

Is it getting to the point where too much is too much?

“Think about it,” answers Jim Muse, general manager of Sycuan, the oldest continually operated gaming house in the county. “We were hearing the same thing about Las Vegas 10 years ago—probably 25 or 30 years ago—and they’re continuing to grow and continuing to build megaresorts. The gaming industry just represents another form of entertainment the public seems to like. It’s an awful lot more convenient here than trying to get to Las Vegas and find hotel rooms and airline reservations and all that hassle.”

The reality is that what you see, feel and hear in San Diego County is only the beginning.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

San Diego's Best New Restaurants 2015

From upscale modern Mexican to a hole-in-the-wall Thai spot, food critic Troy Johnson reveals his 10 favorite new eateries of 2015

The Beer Lover's (Ice) Bucket List

Need a New Year's resolution? Further your beer education by trying these 15 must-drink brews

Architecture: Modern Wonder

Inside Rob Quigley and Kathleen Hallahan’s award-winning East Village domicile
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Dear Chargers, It's Over
    A pre-emptive breakup letter to the team we love
  2. Healthcare Goes High-Tech
    Dr. Eric Topol is putting health care in the palms of our hands
  3. Be Seen This Fall in Rancho Mirage
    Enter To Win a 2 Night Stay Package at The Luxurious Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
  4. Growing Up in San Diego
    26 memories of being a kid in America's Finest City
  5. Incoming: Liberty Public Market
    San Diego's big public market unveils three big new concepts
  6. FIRST LOOK: Duke's La Jolla
    For decades, Top of the Cove in La Jolla held one of the most iconic restaurant spots in San Diego. Now they've finally filled that space. Take an exclusive first look at Duke's La Jolla.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags


Win Dinner for Two at Black&Blue Steakhouse

Win dinner for two at Black&Blue Steakhouse and $25 in Free Slot Play at Valley View Casino

MADE IN AMERICA — Craft Icons of the 50 States

MADE IN AMERICA is the last exhibition in Mingei International Museum’s American Icons series, celebrating 100 years of folk art, craft and design from coast to coast.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags