A Question For California Dopers (Indian Casinos)

Yo have had these casinos for years now, and I have a few questions:
-have they generated any real jobs?
-do they draw in money from out-of-stae?
-have they materially improved the lives of the native Americans who own them?
-and, have they caused many social problems (crime, addiction to gambling, etc.)?

we have several near here…

Couple thousand employees each

No real crime issues as they are in remote areas and heavily monitored like vegas casinos.

Out of state money…questionable. We are too close to vegas to be much of a gambling draw.

Not all are in remote areas, and they are nowhere near being as closely monitored as Nevada casinos. Still, I haven’t heard of any real crime increases related to them; that’s mainly an unsubstatiated fear that comes up at council meetings when one is proposed.

I am not a big fan of Indian casinos… Primarily because of what the casinos do with their money.

If a member of the tribe gets arrested, no matter what crime they committed, the casinos bail them out, pay their legal expenses, and do everything they can to get the offender off. The money is used on criminals. My ex-husband completely boycotts the casinos for this very reason.

I’m talking murderers, rapists, drunk drivers who hit and injure people, etc. I have seen it over and over again, and it makes me crazy.

San Diego, I think, has the densest collection of indian casinos here in California.
I don’t have any statistics to back up my observations, but here’s my take:

-have they generated any real jobs?
Absolutely. Aside from just running the casino, a number of them also have large hotels attached. So clearly jobs have been created.

-do they draw in money from out-of-stae?
Unclear, or if any, I don’t think very much. Arizona also has indian casinos. And I would really doubt that people from Nevada would come to CA instead of just visiting Vegas.
“Out of county” - most certainly. There are free day-trip buses from LA to a number of the bigger casinos down here.

-have they materially improved the lives of the native Americans who own them?
I would have to say “yes”. Some of the casinos like to show off pictures of the new schools that were built from casino earnings. Now as to how well the proceeds are distributed to all the members of a tribe, I couldn’t say.

-and, have they caused many social problems (crime, addiction to gambling, etc.)?
Certainly gambling addiction has gone up, and the casinos do their part to try to address the issue (providing hotlines and numbers to call, etc.). To what extent (and how many lives have been ruined), I could not say. As to crime, I haven’t really heard of that much directly associated with the casinos (no hold ups or robberies that I can think of).

Having never really been to an Indian casino (except for once having a quick breakfast in one in Bozeman Montana that was literally the size of an IHOP or Village Inn) can anyone tell me how alcohol service usually works in them?

Drinking for free 24/7/365 is a big part of the Nevada casino draw for many, and everyone knows how to get virtually free drinks by feeding a couple of quarters into a slot machine when the cocktail waitress comes around (then if you tip her $5 they will usually bring you all the comp beers you can chug without the pretense) even if you are not really playing.

Isn’t alcohol illegal on all Indian reservations?

If alcohol is allowed (due to various waivers or loopholes) is it available 24 hours a day, like it is in Nevada?

What about states that otherwise have alcohol restrictions, like California’s 2am statewide cutoff law?

Do area drunks all head to the nearest Indian casino to continue the party after the regular bars all shut down for the night?

Just curious, as Utah has no Indian casinos in the state, but the Nevada state line (where the little gambling mecca of Wendover NV. is located, complete with about a dozen fairly large casinos) is only about a 90 min. drive from downtown Salt Lake City…

Casinos in San Diego will sell you drinks. Our local casino in Santa Ynez does not sell alcohol but managed to get a beer and wine license for the hotel restaurant after fighting tooth and nail for several years,

There are a couple not too far out from Stockton. I personally have only been to one:

  1. They were obviously producing jobs both in the casino and locally

  2. Not likely, too close to Reno.

  3. Beats me, however the area looked to be booming without making the small town nearby look seedy.

  4. There were a couple of high profile crimes committed at one of them. In one case a robbery committed by gang bangers (caught in short order) and a murder, a woman leaving a casino was abducted and murdered, (that lowlife was also caught failrly quickly) which seemed to be more a crime of opportunity than being the result of the casino’s presence.

  5. Alcohol - Sorry I don’t drink unless I’m at home so I don’t really remember. I think they may have.

Yeah, how dare they provide resources for people dealing with the legal system. Only criminals need bail and defense attorneys, right?

I suppose you’d also shun people who post bail and hire a lawyer when a member of their family is arrested?

I know in California many laws don’t apply in Indian casinos. I’m not sure about alcohol, as I don’t drink, but I was in one about a year ago and I could smoke inside. That would be a major no-no anywhere else in the state. So if they’re exempt from laws pertaining to tobacco, I’d assume they’re exempt from alcohol laws as well.


Lots of jobs created, since most of the casinos have rather large hotels and conference/entertainment complexes attached to them. Last time I walked through Pechanga I saw three conferences and a Marine wedding reception going on, and that was a Saturday afternoon.

Little to no out of state money. What they do is keep money in California that ordinarily would go to Laughlin/Reno. Laughlin has taken a huge hit since Indian casinos started opening in SoCal. There are 7 within an easy drive of here.

Materially improved lives? Hell yes. Not only with cash but with jobs, education and training. Most of the tribes are real big on getting the most bang for their buck, and education is the way they usually choose to do it.

Crime hasn’t risen around the casinos any more than it would if there was a concert somewhere. More people=more crime. But crime particular to gaming? No. Spa Resort sits smack in the middle of Palm Springs. PSPD hasn’t noticed any huge crime increase.

I don’t know if you’re only interested in California; they have Indian casinos in other parts of the country too. In Oregon, there is a large casino located in the area between Salem and the coast. I have been driving through the reservation numerous times a year since I was a child, since before they built the casino. In that time, I have seen schools built, houses improved, and a huge hospital go up in what was previously a VERY economically depressed and isolated area. This is only anecdotal evidence, of course; if you want statistics I’m sure you can Google them as well as I can. I would say it has definitely improved the lives of people living in that area.

I suspect people like you are the reason why it is necessary for the tribes to assist their members in legal matters. Apparently, if an Indian guy commits a crime, we don’t need to bother with those unnecessary things like trials and defense lawyers, as the results are already obvious.

Not only that, but here in the San Diego area, quite a few of the Indian casinos are out on their own land, away from major population areas. You have to make an effort to get to these places, and once you’re there, it’s not like there’s much there except the casino. Not a whole lot of crime opportunity in the areas immediately surrounding the casino, in those cases.

I’ve been to an Indian casino in my part of the world. It’s pretty much like all the other casinos I’ve been to in Tunica or the Gulf Coast. Same games, similar slots. Comps seem a little tighter at the Indian casino, but their blackjack dealers will stand on a soft 17, instead of hitting like they do at the other casinos, so it’s slightly more player friendly. Alcohol flows freely, same as anywhere else.

The economic impact on the tribe is huge. Jobs, schools, all that sort of stuff. Dunno about how they are doing in the competition for out of state visitors. The one I’ve been to is in a fairly remote area, and there is nothing else there to draw tourism, really. Maybe they pull in some “semi-local” customers from just over the state line, but they don’t seem to be the regional draw like Tunica or the Coast.

San Diego resident and frequent Palm Springs visitor chiming in:

I’ve been to all but one of the local Indian Casinos in both areas though I would not really consider myself a gambler. The most I’ve ever spent at one time is $20, and even that’s rare. Usually we are there to try the restaurants, buffets, or to see a concert, since many have nice venues to see bands and A-list comedians during the summer. I have only ever stayed at one of the hotels, which was Barona, and it too was very nice.

Overall, I’d say the casinos have brought 10x more good than bad to the regions where they are set up and I’ve never heard anything like what Soliloquy posted until I read that statement. I can only assume she was the personal victim of a crime involving an Indian. Overall, they sponsor all kinds of local events, schools, parks, etc. and have created many thousands, if not tens of thousands of jobs in the local area. I know three people that work at the casinos and they seem to all like their jobs. My only complaint is that the casinos are havens for smokers, not unlike the ones in Vegas, and certain ones, like Valley View, get so bad you can get ‘smoked out’ from how bad they get. I have always found it odd that with so few smokers in California in general that it seems like over 50% of the people in a casino are smoking. Despite that, we still go once every couple of months for a dinner out. In fact, we were talking about going to Harrah’s Rincon this weekend for my wife’s birthday as we haven’t been there since they completely re-vamped their (previously mediocre) buffet.


The Indian casinos I’ve been to in Washington State, and I’ve been to about 6 or 7 of them, don’t give free alcohol, but charge a normal price. I think, perhaps, they’ve negotiated with the State on that issue.

Can they sell it 24 hours a day?

It’s been a couple of years, but dosen’t WA. have a statewide “last call” at 2am?

I have spent a bunch of time in the Seattle metro area, but can’t remember for sure…

San Manuel Indian Casino has been a major donor to local schools and programs. They used some of their profits to start a bottled water company, and they are very free with donating massive amounts to local tournaments, plays, and other school activities.

Seconding Yarster’s post about concerts. The casinos are a whole circuit these days, not unlike the Catskills and the State Fair circuits. In fact, we just scored free tickets to see Melissa Ethridge next weekend from a casino in Indio.

Thirding the comment about Soliloquy. Baised, to say the least.

I’m sorry to report that I’m seldom at a casino past 2:00 a.m. anymore. I really don’t recall. My hunch is that they have agreed to most of the state regulations, including “last call.” Next time I’m there I’ll ask (or stay late enough to do the research)

We have two in Mississippi. Both are owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

-have they generated any real jobs?
Yes, but there are other industries the Indians have which do that too. It is my understanding that some of the casino income is invested in these industries.

-do they draw in money from out-of-stae?

-have they materially improved the lives of the native Americans who own them?
I think so. The Choctaws seem to be very good at reinvesting in themselves.

-and, have they caused many social problems (crime, addiction to gambling, etc.?
Not to my knowledge.

**Isn’t alcohol illegal on all Indian reservations? **
I don’t think it is on ours, but I don’t know for sure.

If alcohol is allowed (due to various waivers or loopholes) is it available 24 hours a day, like it is in Nevada?
It is my understanding that it is, but that’s true for all of our casinos.

What about states that otherwise have alcohol restrictions, like California’s 2am statewide cutoff law?
We have a “resort” law that allows it.

Do area drunks all head to the nearest Indian casino to continue the party after the regular bars all shut down for the night?
I don’t know, but it’s certainly possible. I remember driving to Memphis to keep drinking when the bars in Lafayette County closed.

BTW these are probably the same ones **Oakminster **describes. Oakminster: if you go back over there, admire the huge arch culvert under the parking lot at Silver Star. One of mine. :slight_smile: