Harrah's, Calif. tribe form alliance

LAS VEGAS -- Harrah's Entertainment became the first major gaming company to sign an agreement with a California American Indian tribe to develop and operate a casino hotel in the state, according to a company spokeswoman.

Harrah's announced that one of its subsidiaries signed an agreement with the Rincon San Luiseno Band of Mission Indians.

Known as a longtime advocate of American Indian gaming in other areas, Harrah's agreed to develop a $100 million casino and hotel on Rincon land in Southern California. The casino could open in 2001.

The Rincon tribal land is located near Valley Center, a 30-minute drive north of San Diego. The casino also should draw from nearby La Jolla, Del Mar, Escondido and Orange County, company officials said.

"We fully expect the Rincon casino to be the premier casino in Southern California," said John Currier, tribal chairman.

The project is dependent on voter approval in March of California Proposition IA, which would expand tribal gaming, as well as on approvals from the Indian Gaming Commission and others.

Harrah's operates casinos for the Ak-Chin American Indian community near Phoenix, the eastern band of Cherokees in western North Carolina and the Prairie Band of Potawatomi American Indians near Topeka, Kan.

Contracts signed last year between tribes and California Gov. Gray Davis called for the doubling of American Indian slots to at least 43,000 as well as the addition of high-limit blackjack, similar to Las Vegas-style.

Those agreements also will have to be approved by voters in March.

Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn, noting that the state depends on casino-related taxes for two-thirds of its revenue, called for the state to come up with a new development plan.

Estimates are that up to 30% of Nevada's gaming income comes from California, according to gaming observers. Harrah's Entertainment operates 20 casinos in the U.S.

Harrah's Entertainment
Phone: (702) 579-2646

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