Soboba Casino reopens

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Crew member Clyde Brotherton of Soboba Casino Resort Environmental Services wipes down one of the casino’s 2,000 slot machines Friday, May 22, in preparation for reopening. Valley News/Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians photo

Mike Hiles, Special to Valley News

As many businesses throughout Riverside County slowly start to reopen, many residents can start enjoying their usual past time activities. Golf courses reopened at the end of April, and Soboba Springs Golf Course has had sold-out tee times ever since. While there is still concern about the coronavirus, measures have been implemented to provide heightened safety for all.

When the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians decided to reopen its casino, May 27, it was not done lightly. Tribal council members have been meeting continuously to gauge all the pros and cons to taking this next step. Revenue from the Soboba Casino Resort funds all the tribe’s programs and services, from its public safety and public works departments to the reservation’s schools. At first, the federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act seemed like it would provide enough funding to keep all the tribe’s essential departments afloat; however, the allocations were based on Native American tribe populations, which hurt California’s Native Americans as tribe sizes are much smaller in this state.

“This is the current situation, and no one knows exactly how or when things will return to what they once were,” Isaiah Vivanco, chairman of the Soboba Tribe, said. “Most likely, there will be a long period of adjustment as the public gets back to work, school and recreation as it used to be.”

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to support local tribes during its meeting Tuesday, May 19, to discuss reopening more businesses while trying to balance the community’s physical health and financial well-being.

Small Business Association loans were offered to companies at first who had to shut down their operations during the pandemic, but Soboba didn’t qualify based on its number of employees, which exceeded 500. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has offered to help tribes with a 25% contribution effort from the tribes.

Soboba Casino Resort employees are working diligently to provide a clean, safe and exciting gaming experience for all guests. They are making the casino as safe as possible without sacrificing the outstanding customer service the resort has been known for. Protocols include cleaning the casino floor with a hospital grade disinfectant and increasing the frequency of cleaning all casino areas.

“Upon reopening, all guests and team members will be required to wear a mask; gloves will be optional for guests,” Jason Cozart, assistant general manager of Soboba Casino Resort, said. “Our gaming floor will be smoke free, but we will have designated smoking areas. We take pride in being the preferred casino and entertainment destination and are committed to providing exceptional service and experience for our guests and team members alike.”

Kelley Carpenter Conign, training and guest services manager at the Soboba Casino Resort, holds a mandatory COVID-19 property-wide protocol information sessions throughout the day for all employees before they meet with their department supervisors for more specific and specialized training and information. Valley News/Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians photo

Soboba’s health and sanitation program has been reviewed and approved by the Soboba Tribal Gaming Commission, the agency charged by law as the primary regulator for the tribe’s gaming operation and ensuring the health and safety of patrons and employees.

Security officials will welcome every guest to the resort. Guests will receive noninvasive temperature checks, utilize touchless hand sanitizer dispensers and must wear a mask or appropriate face covering. Informational signage will be on display, illustrating the proper use of masks and social distancing practices being used throughout the resort.

To ensure proper social distancing, the resort is utilizing sensors to monitor the number of guests entering and exiting the property in real time. The Tree Bar will be open, with limited seating to ensure proper social distancing. In addition, the Cabaret Bar will be open for drink service. However, the Cabaret dance floor will be closed, and no live entertainment is scheduled for this venue at this time. Three of its food outlets will be open with limited seating and to-go service, including Koffee Kiisha, Fairway Café and the Noodle Bar. Reopening of the resort’s hotel and event center will come later.

The Soboba Casino Resort is at 22777 Soboba Road in San Jacinto. For more information and updates, visit http://www.soboba.com or call 866-476-2622.