For a second time, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is extending the closure of its eponymous Southern California gaming property, citing the need to protect the surrounding community and employees amid the coronavirus contagion.
In mid-March, San Manuel joined rival tribal operators in the region in electing to shutter casinos through the end of that month, becoming among the first non-commercial operators to do so as COVID-19 hit the US.
To help protect the health and safety of our community, and consistent with expert guidance, we have decided to extend the closure of San Manuel Casino through April 30,” said the tribe’s business committee in a statement provided to Casino.org.
That comes after the tribe said in late March it was extending the gaming property’s closure to at least April 11. Several other Southern California Native American casino operators also pushed temporary shutterings out until mid-April.
In Washington State, an area hit hard by the coronavirus, it was recently revealed that the Puyallup Tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino will also have its closure extended at least until April 17.
No Layoffs at San Manuel
Many commercial and tribal operators are furloughing and laying off workers to conserve cash due to the zero-revenue environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, San Manuel will not be taking related measures. Rather, the tribe is reducing compensation for staff, noting that higher ups will bear the brunt of that burden.
“When we think about scenarios where the casino does not re-open on May 1, we recognize two very different realities: that we want to care for our team members in every way we can, and that we must preserve the future financial viability of our enterprise,” said the tribe. “We have worked tirelessly on a solution and can report that during this period there will be no layoffs. The Business Committee has elected to forfeit compensation during this period. Team members at all levels will continue to receive their full benefits, but will see their compensation reduced, with senior staff impacted most significantly.”
News of the tribe resisting job cuts is some relief for the Golden State’s suddenly beleaguered economy – the largest in the US – after absorbing one million initial jobless claims over the past two weeks.
It’s not Las Vegas, but California’s gaming industry is being pinched by the coronavirus, and San Manuel isn’t the only operator feeling some pain.
As just one example, the Cahuilla Band of Indians recently postponed the opening of the Cahuilla Casino in Anza, Calif., citing COVID-19.
“Based on recent updates regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, in an effort to continue to protect the health and safety of our guests, team members, and our community, the Cahuilla Band of Indians has decided to postpone the opening of the new Cahuilla Casino Hotel that was originally scheduled for April 2, 2020 until further notice,” said the tribe in a Facebook post.
California has about 70 tribal casinos.