orongo Casino, Resort & Spa has officially kicked off a major expansion at the Cabazon property.
Leaders of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians held an official ceremony at the site on Monday.
The tribe announced the expansion last fall. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2020, according to a news release.
Highlights of the project include:
-A 65,000-square-foot expansion that will increase gaming space by more than 30 percent, with 800 more slot machines and new table games.
-Making over restaurants on the casino level. Morongo has an upscale restaurant, Cielo, and a bar called the Drum Room on its top floors above the hotel. They won’t be affected.
-Adding a free valet parking structure for 750 vehicles. It will include charging stations for 70 electric cars.
The tribe expects the project to create 425 full-time jobs and 1,000 construction jobs. It has not provided an estimate of the cost of the makeover.
The resort, with its tower rising 27 stories above the San Gorgonio Pass, opened in late 2004 at a cost of $250 million. It replaced a smaller casino that was originally a bingo hall and became a bowling alley.
In December, Morongo moved 300 slot machines into the original Casino Morongo and opened a new restaurant there to prepare for construction at the tower.
Morongo’s project is only one of many casino expansions in Southern California as tribes work to turn their properties into “integrated resorts” that attract tourists with lodgings, dining, shopping, and other amenities that keep them on-site during their stays.
Soboba Casino is on track to open an entirely new casino and hotel in San Jacinto in coming weeks.
The Cahuilla Band of Indians plans to replace its casino in Anza and add a hotel, while San Manuel Casino in Highland has plans to add lodging and an events center.