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California tribe, big booster of Las Vegas sports, closing casino

Updated March 14, 2020 - 10:06 pm

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, a big supporter of Las Vegas sports franchises and a major donor to UNLV, announced Saturday that the tribe would temporarily close its San Manuel Casino in Highland, California.

The closure, a bid to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday.

The tribe currently plans the closure to last through the end of March, but an emailed statement said the closure could end sooner or be extended longer, depending on future developments.

The tribe said all employees would continue to be paid during the closure.

“The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians wholeheartedly stand with all of those directly and indirectly affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), as countries and communities face unprecedented challenges and difficult decisions,” the tribes emailed statement said.

“San Manuel Casino has been closely following the news of coronavirus as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and our local public health agencies. The health and safety of our guests, team members, and tribal citizens is our highest priority,” the statement said.

“In consultation with the State of California and in consideration of the Governor’s guidance on large gatherings, we feel this is the best course of action for our community.”

Last month, the tribe donated $9 million to UNLV to help position the university as the nation’s leading source for education and innovation related to tribal gaming operations and law.

The donation was the largest out-of-state philanthropic gift that the tribe bestowed on an educational or healthcare institution.

In October, the tribe announced a partnership with the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium. The San Manuel Casino also has a partnership signed a year ago with the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena.

The casino is in San Bernardino County, 60 miles east of Los Angeles. Last year, the tribe broke ground on a 17-story, 450-room, $550 million hotel expected to be completed by summer 2021, when a 3,000-seat entertainment venue also is due to open.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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