Silver Anniversary At Soboba Casino Resort

◆ By Mike Hiles

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians fought long and hard to open a casino on Tribal land a quarter of a century ago. Much has changed since the early days, most notably the construction and opening of the current Soboba Casino Resort last year. The month of August is filled with Silver Anniversary promotions to commemorate the celebration.

Jason Cozart has been in his current position of Assistant General Manager since 2018. As a Tribal Member he is grateful for the opportunities that have been afforded to the Tribe because of Tribal Gaming.

“Having a hand in building a future for our Tribe has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Cozart, 42. “Over the past 25 years, I have been fortunate to witness the evolution of our Tribe and our gaming enterprise. Simply put, everything has changed. Soboba Casino Resort is proud to be one of the largest employers in the region, supporting not only our Tribe but the surrounding communities.”

He said the time leading up to the opening of the new Casino Resort in 2019 was the highlight of his career. 

“Being part of the design, build, and opening was challenging, exciting, and extremely rewarding,” Cozart said. “I will never forget the day we opened and seeing guests walk through the doors of our beautiful new property for the first time.”

Along with the decades of offering an outlet for guests to enjoy table games, slot machines, special events and great food and drinks, the casino has also seen many employees find lifelong careers within its doors.

About 25 team members have been working for Soboba for more than 20 years in various departments throughout the casino – from dealers to slot attendants and many positions in between. Shiloh Maddox is a Slot Operations Manager who oversees the floor ensuring that it is staffed, and any minor issues are corrected as soon as possible.

“Even though I have been here 23 years, I feel that I have worked at many places because we are always changing and growing,” said Maddox, of Hemet. “We are not the same casino we were two years ago or 20 years ago. It is also like a family here. There is nowhere else like it. I am constantly challenged, and I still learn new things every day.”

When she first started working for Soboba in 1997, she said there were about 200 games and approximately 50 team members located in a small building that was shared with the bingo hall. Today, Soboba Casino Resort has 2,000 slot machines and 36 table games. The current gaming floor is larger than the entire old casino facility. A 200-room hotel and easy access to the Soboba Springs Golf Course completes the resort’s appeal.

“Professionally, Soboba Casino Resort gave me a career,” Maddox said. “I didn’t think at 19 that I would find the place I was supposed to be. It has allowed me to raise my children in the same community. I have witnessed Soboba Casino Resort become the destination we all knew it could be and we aren’t done!”

Phillip De Anda is a Security Supervisor and oversees the daily details of public and employee safety. He said he has enjoyed interacting with both groups throughout the past 23-plus years he has worked in the security department.

“Seeing our assistant general manager grow from a teen to a well-rounded leader is an example of what perseverance can achieve,” he said.

As Cage Shift Manager, Thomas Beach said he enjoys being part of a great team and organization. He started working for Soboba Bingo in 1986 and watched the casino grow from a 2,000-seat bingo hall to the beautiful resort it is today.

“I like the feeling of being part of a great team and organization,” said Beach, of Murrieta.

Lorena Mauri and Elyda Mauri work in the food and beverage department, providing excellent wait service to ensure customer satisfaction.

“I like working for Soboba because I have always felt that I have been treated well and that makes me very happy,” said Lorena Mauri, of San Jacinto. “I enjoy my job and what I do. I am grateful for my supervisors because they always listen and take care of us.”

Amber Escorpiso has been a Table Games dealer for more than 18 years but worked in the food and beverage department prior to that. She enjoys the camaraderie and family-like atmosphere with her coworkers and department leadership as well as the support and motivation from Cozart.

“I also take great pride in knowing that my service helps contribute to a bright future for the Soboba Nation,” she said. “In addition to the opening of the new property, the highlights of my tenure here include seeing the joy that the Tribe’s yearly toy drive brings to families during the holidays and the ways the tribe’s philanthropic efforts have enriched the community such as seeing the Soboba logo over the San Jacinto High School football field.”

Environmental Services Manager Hilda Arriaga grew up in Hemet and said she wouldn’t think of working with any other department than the one she is, which provides cleaning and safety assurances for guests. She appreciates all the opportunities she has been offered at Soboba Casino Resort.

“No matter what department you work in, you will still receive the same attention and opportunity to grow,” she said. “The biggest changes I have seen are actually on the Tribe (Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians). They had a goal of becoming a great pillar of the community and be a great job source for this town and they are doing a great job.”

Arriaga also credits the Tribe with providing all the tools and management team necessary for everyone to be able to put their best work forward each and every day.

“I have made friends that are true friends for life but one of my best highlights is watching some of our management grow with the property,” she said. “An example is Jason Cozart who was a young dealer back then; to watch him grow to be the great leader he has become has been amazing to see, especially because he has been in our shoes as a front-line employee and understands our needs.”

Cozart said that in light of the current COVID-19 situation, Soboba Casino Resort’s anniversary celebration will not be exactly what the team had planned it to be.

“However, this is certainly an important milestone for the Tribe and Soboba Casino Resort,” he said. “We hope to show our appreciation for our team members, and our loyal guests who have been with us every step of the way.”

On August 28 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 25 lucky winners will receive the ultimate Soboba Casino experience with fine dining, a two-night hotel stay and $250 in free slot play. Also helping Soboba Casino Resort celebrate 25 years of being “your favorite place to play” one grand prize winner will take home a 2020 Chevrolet Camaro convertible. For a chance to win the “25 & Drive” car, as well as your share of $320,000 in cash and prizes plus a real silver bar, visit Soboba Casino Resort Fridays and Saturdays in August from 4 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays in August from 4 to 9 p.m. will offer “Silver Sparks” with silver from a luxury Fifth Avenue jeweler and a chance to win your share of more than $62,800 in prizes. Thursdays from 5 to 10 pm in August, guests can win their share of up to $40,000 in cash and promotion chips.

For more information, plus rules and restrictions, please visit soboba.com or Soboba Rewards.

 

Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians noted the opening of the Soboba Casino in 1995 on the historic timeline that lines the lobby of the Soboba Casino Resort Event Center

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians noted the opening of the Soboba Casino in 1995 on the historic timeline that lines the lobby of the Soboba Casino Resort Event Center

Three of 25 employees who have worked for Soboba more than 20 years include, from left, Amber Escorpiso, Thomas Beach and Shiloh Maddox

Three of 25 employees who have worked for Soboba more than 20 years include, from left, Amber Escorpiso, Thomas Beach and Shiloh Maddox

Amber Escorpiso has been with Soboba for more than 20 years and enjoys her job as Table Games Dealer at the Soboba Casino Resort. (She was asked to remove her face mask for the photograph.)

Amber Escorpiso has been with Soboba for more than 20 years and enjoys her job as Table Games Dealer at the Soboba Casino Resort. (She was asked to remove her face mask for the photograph.)

Thomas Beach has worked with Soboba for more than 23 years and currently serves as Cage Shift Manager. He recalls working at Soboba’s Bingo Hall in the late 1980s. (He was asked to remove his face mask for the photograph.)

Thomas Beach has worked with Soboba for more than 23 years and currently serves as Cage Shift Manager. He recalls working at Soboba’s Bingo Hall in the late 1980s. (He was asked to remove his face mask for the photograph.)

Soboba Casino Resort’s Slot Operations Manager Shiloh Maddox has been with Soboba for nearly 23 years and is happy to help the Tribe celebrate its Silver Anniversary. (She was asked to remove her face mask for the photograph.)

Soboba Casino Resort’s Slot Operations Manager Shiloh Maddox has been with Soboba for nearly 23 years and is happy to help the Tribe celebrate its Silver Anniversary. (She was asked to remove her face mask for the photograph.)