Soboba Casino Reopens

◆ By Mike Hiles

As many businesses throughout Riverside County slowly start to reopen, there are a lot of residents that are relieved they can start enjoying past fun activities. Golf courses reopened at the end of April and Soboba Springs Golf Course has had sold-out tee times since then. 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 made the decision to reopen its casino on 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 CARES 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,” said Soboba Tribal Chairman Isaiah Vivanco. “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 on May 19 to discuss reopening more businesses while trying to balance the community’s physical health and financial wellbeing.

Small Business Association (SBA) 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 amount of employees, which exceeded 500. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 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 while not sacrificing the outstanding customer service SCR has been known for.

Protocols include cleaning the casino floor with a hospital grade disinfectant and increasing the frequency of cleaning all casino areas.

“We are taking cleanliness to a new level by implementing an aggressive new health and sanitation program to complement the already rigorous cleaning standards currently in place at Soboba Casino Resort,” Assistant General Manager Jason Cozart said.

“Upon reopening, all guests and team members will be required to wear a mask; gloves will be optional for guests. 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.”

Soboba’s health and sanitation program has been reviewed and approved by the Soboba Tribal Gaming Commission (STGC), 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 non-invasive 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, SCR 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 SCR’s hotel and event center will be at a later date.

The Soboba Casino Resort is at 22777 Soboba Road in San Jacinto. For more information and updates, please visit soboba.com or call 866-4-SOBOBA.

Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.

Soboba Casino Resort Environmental Services crew member Clyde Brotherton wipes down one of the casino’s 2,000 slot machines on May 22, in preparation for reopening

Soboba Casino Resort Environmental Services crew member Clyde Brotherton wipes down one of the casino’s 2,000 slot machines on May 22, in preparation for reopening

Kelley Carpenter Conign, training and guest services manager at the Soboba Casino Resort, facilitated mandatory COVID-19 Property-wide Protocol Information Sessions held throughout the day for all employees who then met with their department supervisors for more specific and specialized training and information

Kelley Carpenter Conign, training and guest services manager at the Soboba Casino Resort, facilitated mandatory COVID-19 Property-wide Protocol Information Sessions held throughout the day for all employees who then met with their department supervisors for more specific and specialized training and information