Tijuana casino hopes to capture glory days
From the moment the Agua Caliente Casino and Resort in Tijuana, Mexico opened in 1928, wealthy sophisticates and Hollywood stars flocked south of the border to enjoy the hospitality and excitement, gaming, spa, casino, spa, horse racing and world class entertainment.
Now Caliente’s history has come alive again for the 21st century with the grand reopening of the new Caliente casino. With a $26 million renovation project that has transformed the facility into a modern gaming operation, the property’s owners hope to once again attract people looking for sophisticated and exciting new entertainment.
“Caliente once again takes its place as it did for many years providing the finest gaming and entertainment in Mexico,” said Francisco Lecuona, marketing director for the property. “We are pleased to welcome guests from both sides of the border to see the new excitement Caliente has to offer.”
Covering 228,000 square feet, Caliente is now the largest casino in Mexico. Among the new features at Caliente are the Las Vegas style entryway, remodeled racing and sports books, traditional bingo halls, gaming halls, sport betting, international restaurants, shopping, and piano bar.
The property has 1,000 new bingo-based electronic games, now permitted under legislation passed in 2004. The Class II electronic terminals are bingo-based in that a player must align symbols, drawings, or numbers. In order to play, patrons must purchase a card with a code that is entered into the machine. When the player wishes to cash out, the card may be exchanged for money.
Later this year, the Caliente soccer stadium will expand its seating from 13,000 to 33,000 seats, making it Mexico’s newest and most modern sports facility. In March 2009, a 425,000 square foot entertainment center including restaurants, bars and nightclubs, amusement park, a convention center and perhaps a hotel will be completed.
Caliente employs 8,000 workers, making it one of Baja California’s largest employers.
When the Agua Caliente’s racetrack opened in 1916, racetracks and other forms of gambling were illegal in the United States. In the 1940s, competition from newly-approved American racetracks forced management to look for new opportunities and led to the establishment of the first race and sports books in Mexico. In 1985, a new management team took over operations, and five years later in 1998, Caliente established traditional and electronic bingo halls.
By redesigning the facilities and expanding to offer new entertainment options, Caliente hopes to attract a share of the northern Baja California audience currently patronizing tribal casinos in Southern California, as well as Americans looking for a new and unique experience.