San Diego County's casino industry may be over-saturated

Posted at 4:54 PM, Mar 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 22:48:31-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – With nearly a dozen casinos in San Diego County, a local gaming expert says the region has become oversaturated creating too much competition.

This is forcing the county's gaming resorts to focus less on gambling and more towards becoming an entertainment destination to help drive revenues.

Others are laying off staff.

The news comes amid a string of critical headlines targeting some local casinos.

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Last week, the developers and operators of Hollywood Casino declared in a filing that it was pulling out of a contract with the Jamul Indian Village, citing nearly $78 million in losses. 

The Pala Casino Resort and Spa also confirmed that there will be layoffs, citing pressure from an increasingly competitive casino market in Southern California.

Longtime gaming expert Dave Palermo says with the addition of the Hollywood Casino, the market just got very competitive for San Diego County’s 10 casinos.

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As far as the overall gaming market in the state, Palermo says it’s holding pretty steady with annual gaming revenues increasing about five percent. While the state’s gaming market remains healthy, Palermo says for each casino, holding onto their share won’t be easy. 

Palermo says local casinos are taking their cue from the Las Vegas industry where revenues from amenities like hotels, food and entertainment are now a bigger piece of the pie.

A total of six local casinos have been undergoing expansions.

A spokesperson for the Jamul Indian Village Tribe declined to comment on the Hollywood Casino’s revenue losses, but says the development is an important step toward the tribe managing its own casino.

“Our announcement today represents an important step toward our long-held goal to manage our own casino,” said JIVDC Chairwoman Erica Pinto.

“We are grateful to Penn National for all their hard work and leadership in bringing what was a very challenging development project to fruition,” said Pinto.