Kathy Foster
Happy players in their new hall at Viejas Bingo

Bingo! Viejas Tribe Brings Gaming to Shopping Center Near San Diego

Diana Saenger

The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians selected a highly trafficked area for its new Bingo Hall—the Viejas Outlets. It is believed to be California’s first bingo hall to be located in a shopping center.

Bingo has a long history at Viejas. Starting in 1977 it’s been moved several times to provide room for the growing number of players. It was during refurbishing the casino after completing the first hotel and prepping for the second, that the new plan for bingo was derived.

“We wanted the best use for the casino floor space and to add more slots – key revenue for casinos,” said Robert Scheid, vice president of community and public relations. “We relocated Anna’s Linens in the Outlets to a better location and their spot became the new dedicated bingo hall.”

The hall has a 6,000 sq. ft. bingo floor with 400 seats, dedicated smoking and non-smoking areas, a snack bar and valet parking. Players can use traditional paper sheets and daubers, or portable hand-held electronic bingo tablets and flat screen monitors that allow them to play up to 500 bingo games at a time.

The new hall will accommodate 400 players three times a day to the Outlets which will also spur more business for the shops, eateries and other entertainment venues in the Outlets which is directly across the street from the Casino and hotel. A long line of players —many who arrived half a day before the ribbon cutting—was energizing for the Viejas Tribal Council Members who supported this idea.

“It was an honor to see friends, supporters and business partners from the county of San Diego, Imperial Valley and other counties as well,” Scheid said. “The tentacles that come out from an enterprise like this have benefits that go both ways in the community financially and otherwise.”

Viejas Bingo will award $45,000 in April and a chance to win one of two new FIAT 500s. However, the tribal decision to relocate was also about satisfying the players.

“We responded to guests’ request; more room, a snack bar, and no smoke to walk through before getting to their seats,” said Viejas Tribal Chairman Anthony Pico. “In aboriginal times quests services were very important to us, and my elders told us when other tribes would come through we would make sure they had a place to stay, rest and get provisions before moving on. That’s why we continue those traditions; it’s part of our genetics. We’re grateful for all who keep coming back, because in our hearts we really enjoy being of service.”

Chris Kelly, General Manager of the Viejas Casino & Resort, added, “We are committed to bringing the best casino resort experience to San Diego today, tomorrow and for years to come.”

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