As Southern California casinos double down on major expansions, Valley View Casino & Hotel planned its recently revealed renovations around its current clientele.
After nearly a year and a half’s worth of construction, which wrapped on June 28, the Valley Center complex revealed its $50 million expansion and sleek new look on July 3.
The expansion added 43,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet of existing casino and restaurant space, including two additional restaurants, a players club, a promotions area for gifts and slot tournaments, six additional restrooms and two new guest entrances. The additional casino space occupies what was the casino’s valet parking area, which has since been relocated.
“I know obviously $50 million is an enormous amount of money, but really in the scale of expanding casinos, many casinos even locally have $200 million, $300 million (expansions), but we didn’t think we needed any more than really what guests asked for,” Bruce Howard, general manager for Valley View, said in an interview at the property.
The impetus for expansion
The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians opened the casino in 2001. The complex’s first major expansion, the addition of a 1,500-stall parking garage, opened in 2005. In late 2010, Valley View completed its 108-room, eight story hotel tower and pool facing the Palomar Mountains after roughly two years of work.
Howard said talks about an expansion began roughly two years ago after the casino received feedback from patrons on the gaming floor and from customer surveys.
Guests said they wanted more room on the gaming floor and more restaurants. He said the expansion was about meeting those specific needs.
“We didn’t add a second hotel tower because most of our traffic is within 40 miles of the casino,” he said.
That doesn’t mean Valley View isn’t trying to broaden its customer base and competitive range.
Howard said that in its early days the casino considered other properties within a 50-mile radius as competitors. But now that competitive territory stretches to 300 miles, noting that Valley View is a “full-fledged, fully operational casino that can compete with Las Vegas.”
“There’s really a shift in perception now of California casinos that they are really not much different than Las Vegas,” he said, adding that casinos are shifting their efforts toward trying to get traffic that would otherwise cross into Nevada.
Valley View is one of several Southern California casinos expanding and renovating.
Pechanga Resort Casino put the final touches on a $300 million expansion in 2018 and Soboba Casino opened a full new resort with a hotel one mile from its old property in February. San Manuel Casino, Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa and Cahuilla Casino are currently undergoing various expansions of their own.
The casino manager said the expansion helped make the casino brighter, more spacious and helped it feel more like a Vegas-style casino in the inside.
A 30-foot-tall glass enclosed main entrance allows for a lot of outdoor light to flow into the space. Much of the space is painted in shades of grey and white. There are exposed wooden beams and red and copper colored accents everywhere.
The other dining option, The Café, sits in the area previously occupied by BLD’s restaurant. It serves breakfast, brunch and lunch and offers views of the Palomar Mountains. Most of the breakfast items, sandwiches and entrees range from $12-$22. It’s open from 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily.
One of the two new restaurants, Patties & Pints, offers burgers, sandwiches, salads and a full bar with draft and bottled beers. The space offers views of both the casino floor and the outdoors. It has 140 seats in its main dining area and 20 seats at the bar and standalone take-out area. The food items mostly range $8-$20; beers and wines run $6-$8 and cocktails are $9-$11. It’s open from 4-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.
The casino has also renovated its buffet, known for serving Maine lobster. It added 100 seats, for a total of 600, and put in new furniture and carpeting. It also added new soup, salad, bread, entree and dessert options.