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Some California tribal casinos ring in 2021 as virus spreads

Virus Outbreak California Casinos
Posted at 8:50 AM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 17:39:34-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — While California's regional stay-at-home order restricts many businesses amid a surge in coronavirus cases that has overwhelmed hospitals, some casinos will continue to bring in customers through New Year's Eve celebrations.

The state's order, which went into effect on Dec. 3, prohibits on-site dining, closes indoor gyms, and limits retail store capacity to 20%, among other restrictions. Though some casinos will go on with festivities, according to the Associated Press.

Locally, Viejas Casino & Resort has advertised a $50,000 Bingo event on Thursday. Harrah's Resort Southern California advertised special menu items featured at its restaurants for NYE.

Jamul Casino told ABC 10News they've canceled all NYE events and live entertainment in light of the recent virus surge.

“Given the latest public health information released earlier this week, the Jamul Indian Village Development Corporation cancelled all live New Year’s Eve entertainment and public events. The JIVDC Board made this decision out of an abundance of caution despite all of the protocols in place to create a safe environment. We will continue to monitor the situation as we have from the beginning of the pandemic when the casino was first closed and do everything necessary to protect the health and safety of patrons and staff as the vaccine roll-out continues," said Erica M. Pinto, chair of Jamul Indian Village Development Corporation.

In October, Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula said that it was closing to the public on New Year’s Eve and canceled or postponed concerts for the first three months of 2021. Jared Munoa, President of the Pechanga Development Corporation, called the decision to close amid rising coronavirus cases "a very prudent measure."

The AP reported that Graton Resort & Casino near San Francisco and San Manuel Casino outside of Los Angeles canceled New Year's Eve events after facing backlash.

Tribal casinos have kept in place many of the restrictions introduced in the springs, such as increased cleaning, temperature checks at the door, required face coverings, and more space between gaming machines.

Tribal casinos operate under federal law on federally protected land, so they’re not required to immediately abide by California's public health orders. It's unclear how the casinos have impacted coronavirus cases, since San Diego County does not report locations of identified community outbreaks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.