Marty Derbyshire San Manuel Casino CA slots

A tribal casino that once stood at the forefront of the fight for legal and regulated online poker in California is now betting big on slots. 

In fact, when the San Manuel Casino lifted the curtain on a recent gaming floor expansion last month, the property became the largest casino in terms of slot machines on the West Coast. 

The addition of 500 new slot machines brought the San Manuel Casino’s total up to 4,700. In comparison, no casino in Las Vegas hosts more than the off-strip Red Rock Casino’s 2,860. 

“Our goal is to provide our guests with an incredible gaming experience unlike anything else on the West Coast,” San Manuel Casino GM Loren Gill said in a release. “The additional 500 slots will add to the excitement on the gaming floor.” 

The San Manuel Casino is in San Bernardino County in an area often referred to as the Inland Empire. It sits a little over an hour outside of Downtown Los Angeles. 

In addition to its now 4,700 slots, the casino features live poker and a variety of traditional casino table games. The facility has been owned and operated by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians since it opened in 1986. 

Early online gambling proponent

The San Manuel Casino is also an early adopter when it comes to online casino technology. It launched its own online social casino product with UK software provider Game Account in 2015.

The social casino currently offers free-to-play casino games and slots for computers and mobile devices. There is no real-money gaming. However, it appears just the flip of a switch away should California lawmakers decide to legalize and regulate online casinos. 

California legislators have seemed intent on tackling the idea of regulated online poker first. They have been debating that issue for around a decade without much progress.

San Manuel joins the fight for CA online poker

San Manuel dove into the battle for legal and regulated online poker as a part of a tribal alliance in 2014 opposing the entry of online poker giant PokerStars in the market.

However, San Manuel soon switched allegiances, joining the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in signing a deal and becoming a part of a coalition with PokerStars that would see them offer online poker together, once legislation passed. The deal coincided with the original sale of PokerStars to rising online gaming player Amaya. Amaya has since been renamed The Stars Group. 

The fight for legalized online poker in California has since stalled. In the spring of this year, California lawmakers shelved the online poker debate indefinitely and San Manuel pulled out of its coalition with PokerStars. 

Tribal executives claimed prolonged legislative gridlock on the issue forced the tribe to focus its efforts and resources on other tribal issues. The same San Manuel executives claimed they hold no ill will towards PokerStars or other coalition members.

Marty Derbyshire
Marty Derbyshire - Martin Derbyshire is a veteran of the world of poker and gambling, having worked as a reporter, producer, and editor in the industry for more than a decade. He has traveled the globe interviewing high-profile personalities and contributes to a number of publications, including USPoker.com, PlayCA.com, and PlayNJ.com.