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$250 million Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa.

The doors will swing open early.

"I don't think there will be a huge landslide of people at 7 a.m.," general manager Bill Davis said by phone. "But some may want to be first in line and we'll open the doors."

Not all of the casino's 2,000 slot machines will be operating when it opens and only the buffet and 24-hour coffee shop will open at first. The hotel and other restaurants should be running by Thanksgiving.

About a month after the "soft" opening, grand-opening ceremonies will take place for the entire project. About 15,000 people could attend the Dec. 10 grand opening, police and fire officials have been told.

Private, invitation-only events before the grand opening will feature appearances by Tonight Show host Jay Leno and musician Carlos Santana and on another night, a concert by R&B stars Beyonce and Destiny's Child, hosted by Nancy O'Dell of "Access Hollywood."

Local officials are making plans for handling traffic and any possible emergencies. Casino officials say new roadwork and the use of the California Highway Patrol to direct traffic during the grand opening and beyond - if necessary- will handle the car and truck volume.

About 2 million visitors are expected annually.

Over the past two months, several meetings have taken place involving the Riverside County Fire Department, the California Highway Patrol, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, tribal police and fire officials and casino representatives.

They are crafting a plan for handling traffic and any police calls and medical emergencies, said Dale Hutchinson, division chief for the Oak Glen division of the Riverside County Fire Department.

The December grand opening comes during the Christmas shopping season when the nearby outlet malls are busy, a situation that could create a traffic headache. The mall and casino use the same freeway onramps and offramps."

You need to approach it on a special-event basis and gear up for the added potential for increased traffic," Hutchinson said.

California Highway Patrol officials could not be reached Wednesday.

When fully open, the casino will have the largest gaming floor west of Las Vegas: 148,000 square feet, officials said.

The tribal casino will feature 75 gaming tables, offering a range of games from blackjack to California-style craps, 2,000 slot machines, a 14-table poker room and a private, high-limit area with table games, slots and a VIP lounge area.

The new Morongo Casino, described as a destination resort, rises 27 stories, making it the tallest building in the Inland area. It includes 272 hotel rooms with 32 suites and a half-dozen luxury casitas. The casitas can be used as a getaway or the site of a business meeting or corporate retreat. Boardroom seating handles up to 12 people and each casita includes Internet access and audio-visual services.

Casitas will go for about $700 a day and regular rooms for about $160 a day.

Special rates will vary.

The hotel tower is topped by a two-story penthouse restaurant and lounge.
Gourmet dining and complete spa services are also part of the new Casino Morongo.
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Thursday, February 15, 2024
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