The Santa Ysabel Casino in San Diego County’s isolated Backcountry gave up its seven-year battle last month and closed its doors.
The tribe, which attempted unsuccessfully to declare bankruptcy after the county of San Diego refused to negotiate down what the tribe owed it for infrastructure and additional sheriff’s deputies, blamed the county for much of its troubles.
Eventually the $50 million in debt proved too much for the tribe. Tribal Chairman Virgil Perez issued a statement that said, “We have always strived to meet all of our obligations and to serve as a responsible corporate partner in our community, as well as a valuable public resource to our members and the surrounding area.”
The Great Recession, which began the same year (2007) that the casino opened with 349 slot machines, worked against the tribe, as did the out-of-the-way location. The catastrophic 2007 wildfires also hurt business.