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History of San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians and San Manuel Casino

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Posted at 2:29 PM, May 04, 2021

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — San Manuel Casino is owned and operated by the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians.

Long before the arrival of European settles, the Yuhaaviatam clan of the Maara’yam (Serrano) Indians lived in the southwestern Mojave Desert and Inland Empire region of what is now Southern California, according to their website.

In the 1780s they were forced to live in the San Gabriel Mission. During their time there, they provided unpaid labor to Spain.

By the mid-1800s, American settlers began moving in. In 1866, most of the Yuhaaviatam tribe was killed and the survivors moved to Warm Creek in the San Bernardino Valley before the establishment of the San Manuel Reservation in 1891.

The tribe became involved with gambling in the mid-1980s when it invested in a high-stakes bingo operation — San Manuel Indian Bingo -- near Highland, California. In 1994, it expanded that operation to include a 100,000-square-foot casino, including a card room and slot machines.

In 2017, a major expansion project began and the bingo hall was closed. The name was also shortened to San Manuel Casino. The casino currently has more than 5,000 slot machines and 140 table games.

A luxurious, steampunk themed high-limit room named The Vault Gaming and Provisions was added in 2019. It features 186 high-limit slots and 8 table games in a steampunk room of 19th century industrial gears, pipes and steam-powered machinery.

San Manuel is currently expanding its California property, adding its first onsite hotel with 429 guest rooms and suites, a spa and a pool with private cabanas. It is scheduled to open in the summer of 2021.

A new entertainment center with 3,000 seats is scheduled to open in 2022.

RELATED: San Manuel Casino reveals expanded gaming area, restaurant and shops opening in July

In 2020, the San Manuel Casino was named Best Casino for the third consecutive year by readers of Inland Empire Magazine. In 2019, it was named Best Southern California Casino by the Long Beach Press Telegram for the 2nd year in a row.

The San Manuel have been active in the Las Vegas valley in recent years. In October 2019, they announced a partnership with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Over the last 4 months the tribe has donated $250,000 to 8 Las Vegas charities, including the Public Education Foundation, the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, the Shade Tree shelter, Noah’s Animal House, Make-A-Wish Southern Nevada, Nevada Public Radio and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

In February 2020, they gave $9 million to the UNLV hospitality and law schools to further education programs about tribal gaming operations and law.

The San Manuel Indians say charitable acts are part of its ancient heritage.

Additionally, the San Manuel own 2 hotels in California, 1 in Washington, D.C., and 1 in Charlottesville, Virginia. They also own a congressional building used for government relations and commercial real estate purposes in Washington, D.C.

The San Manuel Casino also has over 4,000 employees and is one of the top 10 private employers in San Bernardino County.