Indian casinos in San Diego county

There are a host of Indian casinos in San Diego Country.
There are a host of Indian casinos in San Diego Country.

The best San Diego tribal casinos: a complete guide to Indian casinos in San Diego County and beyond.

The Indian casinos in San Diego County might not be as famous as the casinos of Las Vegas, but they’re still among some of the best gaming venues in the US

If you relish the thrill of gaming in Vegas but prefer to steer clear of the masses on the Strip, San Diego’s tribal casinos offer some of the best options for gambling in a more relaxed atmosphere

Native American tribes across the US are often allowed to build casinos on their reservations even if gambling is not permitted in the rest of the state because reservations are technically sovereign land. As a result, Native American Tribes have truly mastered the art of running quality casino resorts.

In many cases, it was Native American Nations who broke beyond the idea of casinos being simply gaming tables and slot machines.

Many of the Indian casinos in San Diego country now host a lot more than that, including entertainment, golf courses and even water parks, making them great holiday destinations for the whole family. They’re resorts in their own right, with top amenities, while still offering top gaming action.

While Califonia might lack a central hub for gambling like Las Vegas in Nevada, San Diego tribal casinos offer strong competition.

Whether you’re mainly looking for gaming action or want a destination for a holiday, read on for our guide to the best Indian casinos in San Diego County and beyond, from multi-million dollar mega-resorts to quieter spots.

Rules at Indian casinos in San Diego County

The legal gambling age in California is 18, but some Indian casinos in San Diego County have an over 21s policy. In many San Diego tribal casinos, minors will be welcome outside of the gaming facilities. Alcohol is not permitted on the gaming floor.

One curiosity of gambling in California is that games decided by dice or balls are not permitted. As a result, the popular casino games craps and roulette look a little different at Indian casinos in San Diego. Casinos have invented creative workarounds that simulate similar odds to craps and roulette but comply with the legal definition of house-banked card games.

In California Roulette, players bets on a typical roulette layout, but the winning pick is based on a card that’s numbered and coloured like a roulette wheel. Some casinos have a spinning card wheel that uses a flapper to rest on the winning card. Others draw three random cards and place them face-down on numbered regions of the table.

A roulette wheel is then spun, and the number the ball lands on decides which card is flipped over to reveal the winning number. California Craps uses a combination of dice and playing cards or cards alone, with cards representing the winning “dice” numbers.

1. Barona Resort and Casino

a view of an indian casino in san diego

Of all the San Diego tribal casinos, Barona Resort and Casino is one of the best known, and one of the closest to San Diego city. Dubbed “the happiest casino on earth,” it’s located barely half an hour from downtown San Diego heading north. It’s a full-scale tribal operation that’s often rated as one of best Indian casinos in San Diego County. In fact, it’s one of only six AAA four-diamond casino resorts in Califonia

The venue has a Western ranch theme, a large hotel with 400 rooms and multiple dining options. An expanded casino floor offers 30,000 square feet of gaming with about 120 table games and 2,640 slot and video poker machines.

The casino is located right beside the famous Barona Creek Golf Course, so it’s the perfect destination if you want to combine two passions on the same trip. 

932 Wildcat Canyon Rd, Lakeside.

2. Harrah’s Resort Southern California

Harrah’s Resort Southern California (formerly Harrah’s Rincon) is an Indian casino and hotel located in Valley Center. It’s owned by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and operated by Caesars Entertainment, so you know you’re in for a big experience.

The luxurious full-service resort boasts a 1,087-room hotel, a luxury pool complex, a wellness spa, swim-up bar and dining venues. As for gaming, players can choose from 1,700 slots and 60 table games. The resort also includes a spa and the nearby Woods Valley Golf Club. There’s even a tribal craft brewery on the resort’s doorstep.

777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center.

3. Sycuan Casino

The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation is a federally recognised tribe of Mission Indians located in an unincorporated area of San Diego County just east of El Cajon. They run another one of the biggest Indian casinos in San Diego County.

The Sycuan Casino was updated through a huge $260m expansion in 2019. It now offers 50 gaming tables and 2,800 reel and video slots. It has an interesting range of Asian games and its own app for smooth customer service.

Smoking is still permitted in Californian casinos but Sycuan has one of the largest non-smoking areas which may prove an attraction to the non-smokers. It also boasts a large spa, swim-up bar, 302-room luxury hotel

5469 Casino Way, El Cajon.

4. Pala Casino & Resort

This San Diego tribal casino is owned by the Pala Band of Mission Indians. Located on the Pala Indian Reservation to the north of San Diego, it boasts an impressive 2,250 slot machines and 87 gaming tables. It offers poker, bingo, table games and regular tournaments.

Aside from gaming, the resort boasts no less than ten restaurants. There’s also a 2,000-capacity events centre, and perhaps most unique of all, a pool complex with five heated pools, daybeds, hot tubs and fire pits for relaxing to the max. Entry is reserved for over 21s only. 

11154 Highway 76, Pala.

5. Jamul Casino

Jamul Casino is the newest of all the Indian casinos in San Diego country, having opened in 2016. It’s also the closest to San Diego City. The highlight here is the 10-table poker room with table-side dining and full bar service. It hosts weekly poker tournaments and special events. The main casino gaming floor has 1,700 slot machines and 40 tables.

The Jamul Indian Village of California is one of 13 federally recognised tribes that make up the Kumeyaay Nation of Southern California. They offer seven diverse restaurants, covering everything from burgers and tacos to flavours from East Asia East and gourmet steakhouse cuisine. There’s regular entertainment from local bands, while the backcountry views are impressive too.

14145 Campo Road, Jamul.

6. Viejas Casino & Resort

san diego tribal casinos

Another more recent addition to the list of San Diego tribal casinos, this AAA four-diamond resort joined the scene in 2013 under the management of the Kumeyaay Indians. Easy access from the freeway means it’s been popular since it opened, and it’s recently expanded, making it an even more attractive option.

It offers more than 2,000 machines, while table games include card roulette. The casino even offers off-track betting on horses and live concerts. The fire pits around the pool look great at night. Over 21s only. 

5000 Willows Rd, Alpine, CA 91901.

7. Golden Acorn Casino

This more compact casino is a popular stop with truckers since it also offers a rest stop with showers and other amenities, including a decent deal on a steak diner. The casino floor has 750 slot machines and eight table games, including $3 blackjack and Ultimate Texas Hold ’Em.

This San Diego tribal casino, owned by the Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians, is located one hour east of downtown San Diego off Interstate 8 at the Crestwood exit.

1800 Golden Acorn Way, Campo.

See also: Ocean´s 11 Casino: all you should know about it

Indian casinos beyond San Diego County

If you’re looking to travel a little further you’ll find more outstanding tribal casinos just beyond San Diego in neighbouring Riverside County.

1. Pechanga 

an indian gambling casino in san diego county

Just over the county border in Riverside County, adjacent to the city of Temecula, Pechanga Resort and Casino boasts the largest casino floor in California, covering a staggering 188,000 sq ft. The casino features more than 5,000 slot machines, 158 table games, a non-smoking poker room with 38 tables, and a super-modern 700-seat bingo hall.  

As for dining, there’s a sumptuous steakhouse and a sushi and oyster bar. As another AAA four-diamond resort it also some mighty luscious suites for accommodation.

45000 Pechanga Pkwy, Temecula.

2. Morongo 

Over in Palm Springs, you can stay in a desert oasis at this AAA four-diamond resort. Morongo offers 4-star accommodations, a luxury spa, casino gaming and more. This casino near San Gorgonio Pass is owned by the Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians. Opened in 2004, the 44-acre (180,000 m2) 27-story resort has 310 rooms and suites and six casitas located around the pool.

At 330 feet (101 m) high, the casino tower is the tallest building in Riverside County. The main casino floor covers 148,000 square feet (14,000 m2) with over 2,000 slots and table games. It has a retro 1960s-themed interior with an ornate ceiling over the casino floor.

There are more than 100 table games on offer, including four-card poker Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, Mystery Card Roulette, blackjack, pai gow poker, mini-baccarat, and three-card poker, as well as a 22-table poker room. There’s a high-limit area with four table games and seven slots and a lounge with plasma TVs and complimentary food.

49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon.

3. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage

Also near Palm Springs in Riverside County, this resort czasino has a spa and a state-of-the-art entertainment venue that stages music and comedy.

Players can enjoy ducking out for a smoke at Pívat Cigar Lounge in between games. Options for food range from fine dining to quick bites. 

32-250 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage.

See also: Largest Casino in America: What Are the Biggest Casinos in the US?

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