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Harrahs Rincon and Valley View Casinos Receives Go Signal to Expand Number of Slot Machines

A court decision combined with a quick action this month gives two casino facilities in San Diego County the chance to expand their gaming offerings by twenty-five percent. Management at both Harrah's Rincon and Valley View Casinos-which are located near Valley Center in North County-say that they plan to add four hundred and 428 slot machines respectively.

Bruce Howard, the general manager of Valley View said on October 26th, 2009 that they have waited for this day to come. California Government red tape hampered the growth of both casino facilities, operated by the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians and the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians. Both Indian tribes have agreements with California to operate up to two thousand slot machines.

But neither was legally allowed to offer two thousand machines. The state said that it had a limited amount of gaming licenses to issue. By the time the casino facilities grew to about 1,600 machines, the state said that it was out of gaming licenses to issue. Indian tribes from Southern and Northern California took California to court over the issue and won.

In response, California held a gaming license draw on October 5th, 2009, assigning four hundred more gaming licenses to Rincon and 428 licenses to Valley View. Sacramento set an October 12th, 2009 deadline for Indian tribes to pay fees of $1,250 per license. California plans to announce gaming license recipients in November 2009.

With additional gaming licenses, Valley View will be able to increase the number of Las Vegas-style slot machines on its casino floor by 428, bringing its overall count to two thousand machines. Howard said that the facility plans to bring its casino facility up to its maximum capacity by mid-November 2009.

Harrah's Rincon will be able to add four hundred slot machines to bring its overall total to two thousand machines. Harrah's officials said that they plan to make the improvement by next year. Larger casino facilities are capable of earning hundreds of millions of dollars of gaming revenue annually. Before the economic crisis, gaming analysts estimated that San Diego County's ten tribal casinos did $2 billion in gaming revenues yearly. Valley View's Bruce Howard said that one top class slot machine costs $15,000 to $20,000.

Adding new slot machines to the gaming floor will be an $8 million investment. San Pasqual's gaming division will acquire the slot machines with an equipment loan that uses the slot machines as collateral. Harrah's officials say they expected to make a $6 million investment. With its new, Class III slot machines, Valley View plans to retire its bingo machines. Also classified as Class II slot machines, the equipment are harder to play and not well-like by players.

The chief executive of the nearby Pala Casino Spa Resort, Bill Bembenek, said that Valley View will immediately see the benefit of replacing the bingo machines with Class III slot machines. Bembenek said that Pala experimented with bingo machines in 2006 and found out that they only earned sixty to seventy percent of what the Las Vegas-style slot machines can earn. He said that is when they are brand new.

After a month on the gaming floor, that drops to fifty percent. The benefit of having Class II slot machines is that California cannot control their number compared with Class III slot machines. By contrast, Harrah's Rincon does not have any bingo machines. Valley View and Rincon are within a short distance of three other casino facilities.

Pala Casino has two thousand slot machines, eighty-seven casino table games and a casino staff of 1,900 individuals. The biggest casino on the area is the Pechanga Resort and Casino, which has 3,400 slot machines, 130 casino table games and 54-table poker room. Casino Pauma is smaller, with just 1,050 slot machines.


Thursday, 19 November 2009
Marissa Patterson