THE San Manuel Band of Mission Indians officially began its major expansion project, marked by Yaamava’, a celebratory event and groundbreaking ceremony, that was observed by dozens of community leaders, members, and guests.

With the expansion comes San Manuel Casino’s first onsite hotel, a world-class entertainment venue, and an array of state-of-the-art amenities, including new dining experiences, retail and event spaces, and more.

Lynn Valbuena, chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Jerry Persa, chief executive officer of the tribe, and Loren Gill, general manager of San Manuel Casino, were among the leaders who partook in the groundbreaking ceremony.

“We couldn’t be more humbled and proud to start this new project, one that embodies the new growth and revitalization of Yaamava’, meaning spring, a season that brings new life and boundless potential. This time of renewal is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to the words of our ancestors to ‘never forget who we are or where we came from,’” Valbuena said.

Located an hour outside of downtown Los Angeles, San Manuel Casino continues to attract millions of guests a year with 4,800 slots and gaming options.

This project is a major step forward for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the surrounding community that brings employment opportunities as well as enhanced entertainment experiences to our casino guests.

“From construction to completion, this project will add a high volume of employment opportunities,” said Jerry Paresa, chief executive officer of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, during the ceremony on Wednesday, July 25. “Breaking ground today provides us with the opportunity to create more jobs that benefit the region.”

The 3,000-capacity entertainment venue is meant to be a live performance theater, featuring a sizable stage, tiered and box seating options.

Gill, who has been general manager since 2015, said that an accomplishment he is proud of is the casino’s talent development.

“It has been a series of doing positive things over a three-year period. If I had to pick one, it would be the recruiting, hiring, training and development of new people and helping them do great things. We also take the existing talent and help them grow their careers,” he said in an interview, adding “it is so significantly important to develop the team because we ask people to spend their time and money [here] and if they have a bad experience, they are likely not to come back.”

San Manuel Casino is among the top 10 private employers in San Bernardino County, supporting more than 4,900 employees.

With the expansion, Gill estimated about 1,200 new jobs could be created, but said “it can be even more than that” if the business continues to grow.

Additionally, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and San Manuel Casino pride themselves in philanthropic efforts to the greater community and organizations.

“Separate from the tribe’s philanthropy, [the casino] does a lot in the community to lift up people who need a little support,” Gill said. “It’s very important because we truly believe because we have been given so much, a part of us has to give back to the community.”

Currently, the casino generates more than $1 billion in annual economic activity in the region and with the new expansion, that number will surely rise.

As for the casino’s long-term vision, Gill said that there are opportunities later down the road to build and develop more of the surrounding land and properties.

“The tribe is now at a position where they really need to think about what does their community look like and how do they get their family members together on the reservation to provide quality housing and infrastructure for their future,” Gill said.

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