California: Jamul Casino fourth San Diego-area Indian property to announce reopening Howard Stutz, CDC Gaming Reports · May 18, 2020 at 6:45 am San Diego’s Jamul Casino will reopen in phases beginning Monday despite a protest from California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who appealed to Native American tribes to reconsider their plans. The Jamul Indian Village said in a statement Friday that the small casino in east San Diego County would join three other San Diego-area properties – Viejas Casino & Resort, Sycuan Casino, and Valley View Casino – in reopening this month after being closed since mid-March in an effort to slow the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, the tribe said the property – which does not have a hotel – would open to rewards club members starting Monday, with a public reopening planned for Thursday. The casino will have physical distancing requirements, increased cleaning protocols, and will operate under limited hours, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily until it expands to 24-hour operations beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday. Jamul GM Mary Cheeks “This has been an unprecedented season of uncertainty, and we understand it may take time for some guests to be ready to come back,” Jamul General Manager Mary Cheeks said in a statement. “I can assure you that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that Jamul Casino is a safe and fun environment when guests return.” The reopenings of the Southern California casinos follow tribal casino reopenings in Arizona, Washington, and Oklahoma. North Carolina’s Cherokee Tribe will reopen its two Harrah’s-operated properties on Monday. The American Gaming Association said 52 casinos in nine states had reopened by the end of last week. Nearly 1,000 commercial and tribal casinos in 43 states were closed in an effort to slow the pandemic. Newsom, in a letter reported by the Los Angeles Times, told the tribes the reopening plans concerned him. Indian casinos are located on tribal lands that are considered sovereign nations. “I urge tribal governments to reconsider and instead make those determinations based on how they align with the current local public health conditions and the statewide stage of reopening,” Newsome wrote. Beth Binger, a spokeswoman for Jamul, told the San Diego Union-Tribune the tribe intends to reopen. “We are reopening with significantly reduced occupancy limits,” she said in an email Saturday. “We will be continuously monitoring our occupancy as we reopen to regulate entry as needed to keep guests a safe distance apart.” In a statement, the Jamul tribe said the reopening plans follow guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, public health authorities from California and San Diego County, the Tribe’s COVID-19 Task Force, and the National Indian Gaming Commission, and have been reviewed by the Southern Indian Health Council (SIHC). Reopening plans include: Thoroughly cleaned and disinfected surfaces, machines, chips, dining and bar areas, kitchens and food prep areas, new air filters, and HVAC cleaning. Continuous cleaning and sanitizing of dining venues and guest touchpoints throughout the day. Temperature screening using non-contact infrared thermometers before employees and guests can enter the casino. Anyone with a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, or who are showing other symptoms, will not be allowed in the casino. Required face coverings for all team members and guests. Most casino employees will wear gloves, and the casino will provide gloves to guests upon request. Dealers and patrons who cannot wear gloves due to chip handling will be required to constantly sanitize and wash hands. Dealers will frequently change cards. 150 hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the casino. Erica M. Pinto, Jamual chairwoman Required physical distancing, including reduced seating, shutting off certain gaming machines, and controlled entry and exit to facilitate distancing and occupancy. Social distance signage will be placed throughout the casino and dining venues. All cage cashiers and quick-serve dining counters will have Plexiglass dividers. A phased re-opening of dining venues and enforced physical distancing for restaurants. The Jamul Casino has 1,600 slot machines, 39 table games, a poker room, live entertainment, and seven restaurants, bars, and lounges. The property employs 1,000 workers. “We are excited to be re-opening Jamul Casino, and celebrating this key moment in returning the livelihoods of our team members, tribal members, and the hundreds of businesses that help keep our wheels turning,” Jamul Indian Village Chairwoman Erica M. Pinto said in a statement. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.