SAN DIEGO-The impoverished Rincon Indian band has new hope for the future, with the coming reopening of the Rincon Casino in Valley Center in January 2001. The renovated casino will be replaced with a new $100-million casino and resort hotel in the first quarter of 2002, if the National Indian Gaming Commission blesses the project. The casino is located on the 4,300-acre Rincon Reservation northeast of Escondido. The temporary casino will open with 759 slots, a snack bar and deli.

Over the past 16 years, tribe members have had their hopes for prosperity dashed over and over again. Each attempt to operate the casino ended in failure, due to poor management and involvement of shady characters, mobsters and shysters.

This time, with Harrah’s Entertainment running the show, everything is on the up and up, and tribe members are once again optimistic about the future. “This definitely means hope that the tribe will be able to run with proper resources and provide medical insurance, health benefits and other things in the future,” says John Currier, Rincon tribal chair. “Excitement is growing as we head toward the opening of the temporary facility. People are starting to look to the future, to Rincon prosperity,” he adds.

While employment preference will be given to members of the Rincon San Luiseno Band of Mission Indians and other tribes, the Rincon Casino held a job fair last weekend and invited non-Native Americans. A new employment office opened today on the reservation. The casino will employ about 400 people.

Tom Dingeman, Harrah’s SVP and general manager for the Rincon project, says that Harrah’s is providing the training for casino workers and is serving as consultants for the temporary casino, but will manage the new casino when it opens. He says that that his firm’s relationship with tribal gaming facilities is “pretty synergistic”–everyone wins. Beyond revenue from its management contract, Harrah’s promotes its own gaming facilities by imprinting its brand name on a California casino and expands its pool of trained casino professionals. The casino will benefit by partnering with the gaming industry’s leader, which includes expert training and upwardly mobile job opportunities for its employees.

Unlike its competitors, Dingeman notes that Harrah’s holds the belief that tribal gaming promotes the gaming industry in general and supported Prop 1A, which California voters approved earlier this year. This new law permits Nevada-style gambling activities in tribal facilities. Noting that Harrah’s discontinued its membership in the Nevada Resort Association because the organization opposed tribal gaming, he adds, “Now they’re all down here trying to get their foot in the door.”

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