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San Diego casino tribes feel pinch

29 January 2008

SAN DIEGO, California -- As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune: "Like their customers, many San Diego County tribal casinos are feeling the effects of falling housing prices, rising food prices and $3-a-gallon gas.

"People are gambling less at some casinos, and that's meant some workers have lost their jobs.

"When laying off scores of people two weeks ago, Viejas, near Alpine, told them it was 'conducting a work force realignment to reposition ourselves for current business levels.'

"Translation – business is down, so fewer workers are needed.

"Viejas won't say how many people it laid off, but some workers were given a list of about 140 eliminated positions, which was later amended to about 130.

"The meteoric growth of just a few years ago has slowed, with local employment in gambling establishments remaining fairly steady at about 12,000 since 2004, according to state statistics – which don't count hotel workers – through last March.

"...But even as financial difficulties surface, tribal casinos' complicated relationship with the economy has positioned them for growth. No one seems ready to roll up the felt on the blackjack tables.

"Experts still see future expansion for a local industry that took in an estimated $1.7 billion from gamblers in 2006 and paid workers $424.6 million in wages before benefits..."

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