After a two-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamul Casino had a soft re-opening on May 18 for its Amber and above Sweetwater Rewards Club VIP guests, and a public re-opening planned on May 21. In response to the pandemic, Jamul Casino closed on March 20 to protect the health and safety of its guests, team members, and tribal members. Throughout its closure, the casino has been in touch with guests via its Facebook page, posting messages on its website, and has been working hard on its re-opening plan. Jamul Casino began its phased re-opening with physical distance enhancements, increased cleaning protocols, and improved gaming technology. The casino will also operate under limited hours from 10AM to 2AM daily until it expands to 24-hour operations beginning at 10AM on May 21.
“This has been an unprecedented season of uncertainty, and we understand it may take time for some guests to be ready to come back," said President and General Manager of Jamul Casino, Mary Cheeks. "I can assure you that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that Jamul Casino is a safe and fun environment when guests return.”
Jamul Casino recently surveyed its entire database of guests, and 94 percent of respondents indicated that they would be comfortable coming back to the casino when it re-opens. For patrons who are not yet ready to return, the casino is offering “Jamul at Home” prepackaged meal kits. Each kit includes fresh, high-quality ingredients from Jamul Casino’s restaurants—everything needed to prepare a meal for two to four people—plus a simple recipe to put it all together. Each kit can be scheduled for pickup from the valet.
Jamul Casino’s re-opening plans follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of California, the County of San Diego, the Tribe’s COVID-19 Task Force, the National Indian Gaming Commission, and were reviewed by the Southern Indian Health Council (SIHC). A few key re-opening plans include:
- Thoroughly cleaned and disinfected surfaces, machines, chips, dining and bar areas, kitchens and food prep areas, new air filters and HVAC cleaning.
- Continuous cleaning and sanitizing of dining venues and guest touch points throughout the day. A special “Clean Team” has been established to be laser-focused on all high-touch guest and team member areas that will be continuously cleaned.
- Temperature screening using non-contact infrared thermometers before team members and guests can enter the Casino. Anyone with a temperature of 100o or higher or other symptoms (coughing, sneezing, runny nose) will not be allowed in the Casino.
- Required face coverings for all team members and guests.
- Most Casino employees will wear gloves, and the Casino will provide gloves to guests upon request. Dealers and patrons who cannot wear gloves due to chip handling will be required to constantly sanitize and wash hands. Dealers will frequently change cards as well.
- At least one hundred fifty (150) hand sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the Casino.
- Required physical distancing, including reduced seating, shutting off certain gaming machines, and controlled entry and exit to facilitate distancing and occupancy.
- Social distance signage will be placed throughout the Casino and dining venues.
- All cage cashiers and quick serve dining counters will have Plexiglass dividers.
- A phased re-opening of dining venues, enforcing physical distancing for restaurants.
During this first phase of re-opening, Jamul Casino will not be offering shuttle or valet services, entertainment (DJs or live bands), buffets, or promotions.
During the unexpected closure, Jamul Casino also upgraded its gaming system and improved the benefits offered to Sweetwater Rewards members. Upon re-opening, members can get their new Sweetwater Rewards card that will sync with the system. With more benefits activated through the Sweetwater Rewards card, there’s less need to handle paper and money—a cleaner “touchless” experience. New benefits include:
- Points can be downloaded for play at any slot machine.
- Dining offers can be redeemed simply by swiping the card at the dining venue.
- In-game television screens.
- Ability to check tier status and change PIN numbers at the slot machines.
- Slot machine winnings can be saved on the member’s Sweetwater Rewards account and used at any other machine or cashed out. Again, less paper, fewer touches.
- Members can load cash into their Sweetwater Rewards card account, then use it to play slots and table games without having to carry around paper money.
Additional features in the coming months include:
- Drawing check-in at the slot machines.
- Enhanced promotions.
- Streamlined jackpot processing.
- Beverage ordering on the slot machines.
Jamul Indian Village Chairwoman, Erica M. Pinto, states, “We are excited to be re-opening Jamul Casino, and celebrating this key moment in returning the livelihoods of our team members, tribal members, and the hundreds of businesses that help keep our wheels turning. We thank everyone for their resilience. Welcome back!”