When it came to legalized gambling, California was at a crossroads of sorts in the mid-1990s.

There were card clubs — like Commerce Casino or Bay 101; racetracks like Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows; and a couple of rundown “Indian Bingo” parlors.

Beginning in 1995 and 1996, the codes were modernized. Slot machines were installed at the bingo parlors, and modified table games were legalized. Racetracks were allowed to offer satellite wagering while card clubs were allowed to continue on in certain communities with certain conditions that didn’t previously exist.

Now fortunes are completely reversed. Racing is declining (in fact both Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park are long gone); Card clubs are disappearing in an onslaught of new development, as tribal casinos like Morongo and Pala are thriving and growing.

None though has been as successful as Pechanga. Located in Southwestern Riverside County — in the heart of wine country, Pechanga recently opened its newest hotel tower upping the ante and earning the distinction as California’s largest casino hotel.

As a result Pechanga now has 1090 rooms, a two-story spa, a super modern event and convention center, an expanded lobby bar and an amazing new swimming pool that will open sometime later this spring.

Here’s how it looks — by the numbers:

  • Cost of expansion: $285 million
  • Casino square footage: 200,000
  • Event/meeting/convention square footage: 100,000 (indoor) 174,500 (outdoor)
  • Number of hotel rooms: 1,090
  • Number of restaurants: 13
  • Number of pools/spas: 13
  • Spa square footage: 25,000
  • Treatment rooms: 17
  • Number of employees: 4,750

Most impressive is the Pechanga Summit event center, a hall with a main ballroom of 40,000 square feet that can be divided into five sections, or just the scene of an awesome concert.

The new spa is pretty amazing too. With hydro therapy pools and a hair and nail parlor that’s likely to be tops of its class in Riverside County. It’s a stunning place to see and offers a variety of possibilities.

Pechanga is located at 45000 Pechanga Parkway in Temecula. For more information, call (951) 693-1819 or visit pechanga.com

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