By Miriam Raftery
September 19, 2011 (Alpine) – “Tribal gaming has provided the resources to end generations of poverty,” Viejas tribal chairman Anthony Pico said at Viejas Casino’s 20th anniversary party. Gaming has also enabled the tribe to attain self-reliance and donate to many local charities.
It’s also enriched some lucky players through the years. Since opening its doors in 1991, Viejas Casino has given away $2 billion. The most recent lucky winner? Maria Teresa Magpantay Dull of San Diego, who was elated to win a 2012 Corvette valued at $35,000 at Saturday night’s celebration. View a video of the winining moment.
Ten other casino players’ names were drawn to try their luck in the Corvette drawing. The nine runners-up each took home $2,000—including players from Alpine, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Lakeside, Mexicali, San Diego, and Santee.
“That’s my Mom!” one woman exclaimed when the names were called and a senior citizen took the stage. “She’s 81, and she’s living on Social Security. Two thousand dollars will make a big difference in her life.”
Chairman Pico accepted awards and proclamations from state and local officials in honor of the occasion. The County Board of Supervisors declared September 17 “Viejas Casino Day.” A leader from the Alpine-Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce praised Viejas for providing employment, economic vitality and charitable donations to benefit the community.
Chairman Pico recalled, “It wasn’t always that sure of a bet…but we did what our elders told us to, to never ever give up.” He praised tribal council members for their vision to make the casino a reality, adding, “Boy, did we ever make it happen!”
Today, Viejas Casino employs over 1,300 people and makes purchase from over 3,500 vendors each year. In addition to the Casino, the tribe operates the Viejas Outlet Center with shopping as well as entertainment venues such as a bowling alley, outdoor ice rink in winter, arcade, and miniature golf course. The tribe recently added its name to the Viejas Arena at San Diego State University. Next up, Viejas plans to build a hotel on its tribal lands adjacent to the Casino.
Community leaders including representatives from other local tribes attended the festivities, toasting Viejas’ success with complimentary champagne at a VIP reception complete with jazz band and buffet.
“Thanks to all of you in San Diego County—and thanks to our creator,” Chairman Pico concluded of the Casino's 20-year ride.