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California Casino Opens in High Desert

A casino aimed at the locals of Coachella Valley, Tortoise Rock Casino, opened last week in Southern California. The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians owns it.

The Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians in California’s Coachella Valley opened the tribe’s second casino, Tortoise Rock Casino, last week.

The grand opening was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony attended by about 1,000 people.  The 30,000 square foot casino has 490 slots, five gaming tables and two poker tables. It has no hotel or dining facilities, although those may be added later.

The tribe currently also operates the Spotlight 29 casino, which is marketed more as a destination resort. The Tortoise Rock aims more at the local, low stakes players, according to General Manager Tom Sedlock, who is in charge of both.

“With nothing really up here in the High Desert and the military base, it just made sense to put a small, local casino in the community,” he told the Desert Sun. The locals will, of course include Marines stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, including those between 18-21, a market that the areas other casinos, such as the Spa Resort Casino and Morongo Casino, don’t target.

The tribe has been talking about a second casino for about a decade, but the Great Recession shut down those discussions for several years. Gaming expansion still is slow in the Golden State compared to other regions, about 1.6 percent, according to some sources.