San Manuel Tribe Gives 50 Businesses in Southern California $20K Each

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is stepping up to help struggling businesses in Southern California.

San Manuel casino charity donation
San Manuel casino charity donation
San Manuel Chairman Ken Ramirez presents a $20,000 check on January 29 to Jovanna Rodriguez, who owns Jovi’s Diner in San Bernardino County. Jovi’s was one of 50 small businesses that received $20,000 from the tribe. (Image: San Manuel Band of Mission Indians)

The owner and operator of the San Manuel Casino in Highland, California, recently surprised 50 small businesses with $20,000 each. The tribe said the recipients are based within the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians ancestral territory, and all have been devastated by COVID-19.

We all look forward to the day when you can fully reopen your doors for good and welcome your customers back. Until then, you have a hand up from San Manuel to cover expenses and keep your employees on the payroll,” said tribal Chairman Ken Ramirez.

The tribe handed the $20,000 checks to a variety of establishments, including restaurants, personal care services, and other businesses deemed non-essential and forced to shutter at times on state orders.

Casino Money Philanthropy

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is amid a mammoth renovation of its namesake casino that’s located some 60 miles east of downtown Los Angeles.

Announced in March of 2018, the tribe is spending $550 million to transform its casino into a full-scale gaming resort destination. The expansion includes a 450-room hotel, 3,000-seat concert venue, spa, additional restaurants, and a 2,200-space parking garage.

The San Manuel Casino benefits from being the closest casino with slot machines and table games to downtown Los Angeles. Its gaming floors are filled with more than 5,000 slot machines and some 130 table games.

While the casino generates big money for the tribe, the Native American group shares the wealth. Just in December, the tribe announced a $14 million contribution to Claremont Graduate University.

The philanthropic gift will create a new research facility at the school called the Yuhaaviatam Center for Health Studies. The facility will focus on health and well-being challenges specifically related to Indian country.

A year ago this month, the San Manuel Indians gave the UNLV hospitality and law schools a $9 million donation. The money will be used to further education programs tailored towards tribal gaming operations and law.

The San Manuel Indians say charitable acts are part of its ancient heritage. The tribe explains that it must regularly answer the call of Yawa’ (a Serrano word meaning “to act on one’s beliefs).

Gaming Industry Relief

Casinos in the US have been ravaged by the coronavirus. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying to help struggling small businesses. And no one has stepped up more than Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy.

To date, the Barstool Fund has raised more than $34 million for small business relief. Portnoy says the money has already helped 215 businesses with payroll assistance.

Penn National Gaming acquired a 36 percent stake in Barstool Sports in January of 2020 for $163 million.

Countless casinos across the nation have also helped during the pandemic. Food was donated to homeless shelters and food banks, several large six-digit checks were handed to nonprofits, and millions of items of personal protective equipment were bestowed.

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