Southern California’s tribal casinos were forced to accept expansion delays in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with expectations of a stronger year ahead, they’re making changes. A summary by media outlet Daily Breeze shows that, despite a degree of uncertainty over how COVID-19 might impact 2022, the casinos have been introducing new features. They’re getting ready for what could be a pivotal year for California’s gaming scene.
Harrah’s Brings in Gordan Ramsay
Last year saw the addition of many restaurants to Southern California casinos. Harrah’s Resort Southern California has partnered with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The opening is planned for spring of this year.
Harrah’s announced its partnership with Ramsay to open a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant. The new addition will take the place of an Italian restaurant that was closed. It was Harrah’s buffet before that. In the face of closures for buffets because of the coronavirus epidemic, it’s becoming more common for casinos to adopt new concepts.
This will be Hell’s Kitchen’s first location in Southern California. It is also the fourth Hell’s Kitchen worldwide. According to Harrah’s, the new restaurant will be able to seat 332 people.
Morongo Casino Taps Top Chef
Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa announced a partnership with Fabio Viviani, a former contestant on “Top Chef,” in July 2021. His restaurant, The Marketplace by Fabio Viviani, will be replacing the Potrero Canyon Buffet.
The Marketplace is a buffet concept with a high-end attitude. Chefs greet customers and help them make their choices from the menu. The food is then prepared at each stall. The Marketplace has seven eateries, each with its own them. Mercato Centrale offers Italian food, Al Comal is a Mexican/South American eatery, Pescato is a seafood restaurant, Spanish, Pork & Waffles is Southern comfort food, Sukiru is Pan-Asian and Prime Cuts is a steakhouse/Brazilian Churrascaria. For dessert, there’s Sweet Things.
Although December 2021 was originally the opening date, the Marketplace is now anticipated to open in the first quarter.
Yaamava’ Resort Adds New Dining and Gaming Options
The Yaamava’ Resort and Casino was able to complete significant construction last year, in keeping with its vision of becoming an exclusive brand casino. It has just completed a 432-room, 17-floor hotel tower with a spa. The hotel’s pool deck includes Radiance Café and the Helix Bar, and is expected to be ready sometime this spring.
Yaamava’ saw expansion that also included multiple new high-limit gaming rooms, three bars and a Serrano Vista Cafe. The Serrano Buffet was reopened and The Pines Modern Steakhouse moved into a new space.
In 2022, the complex will also host an events center. Supply chain disruptions caused setbacks to the 2,800-seat venue.
2022 Could Bring More Changes to California Gaming
There are several issues being addressed in California’s gaming industry that could alter the market. The biggest topic is sports gambling. If lawmakers can figure out how to settle their differences and overcome tribal challenges, commercial sportsbooks could be introduced this year.
Several card rooms have also been trying to find a path toward expanded gaming, but this promises to be more difficult to achieve. However, if they make any progress, or if sports gambling is approved, the tribal casinos have to be ready for a more competitive environment.
COVID-19 and the omicron variant threaten those plans. California now has over five million positive COVID-19 cases and, if not brought under control, a repeat of the 2020 shutdown might be seen.