The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians has continually innovated since purchasing its Alpine, California reservation land in 1932.
The Viejas Bingo Room opened in 1977 and the original Viejas Casino premiered in 1991, later incorporating the bingo hall into the property in 1994. Since then the tribe has seen rapid growth; a new hotel in 2013 was followed by a second hotel in October 2015.
The facility’s 10,000 sq ft casino floor and new gaming machines necessitated 2,500 additional slot machine chairs. Rich Marino, VP of slot operations, was responsible for selecting the seating to accompany the new machines.
“Many companies build a beautiful chair, but my prime concern is always base design functionality,” said Marino. “Casinos usually replace sturdy chairs when a new design element is introduced. “
At $400-$500 each, Gasser may not be the least expensive seat, but they are the most durable and high quality.
“Although they offer hundreds of attractive elements, the decision always starts with functional design,” he continued.
Although Marino admits to favouring Gasser products, having first encountered the company at the Mandalay Bay’s March 1999 opening in Las Vegas, he evaluated all available seating options on the market.
After selecting Gasser, he explained his thought process: “The chair’s superior hydraulics and contour offer excellent ease of movement. I attribute this to the metal design of their patented Halo base – thick carpets typically hinder motion, but Gasser chairs move like a dream.”
Marino and director of project development, Robert Scannell, collaborated on the final selection. Over the years, they have worked closely to transition the Viejas property from what Scannell characterises as a “typical locals casino” to a four-diamond resort.
“I joined Viejas in 1999 and have since witnessed the maturation of Indian gaming,” said Scannell. “Since 2011, we have consciously strived to create a true resort that is no longer one of the crowd.
“How have we successfully developed such a sophisticated property? By differentiating our Viejas quality and not aiming to offer a party atmosphere.
“Instead, we focus on the function, finishes, fixtures and elegance. Rich and I want to showcase quality natural materials in deeper, richer colours to match the customers’ experience. All must blend together to tell a complete story.”
Significant thought went into the design process to create a visually appealing balance. According to Scannell, it required comprehensive planning for the chairs to complement the casino’s slot machine colours, carpet and lighting. Despite this, he and Marino refused to compromise their vision and ‘cheap out’ by throwing money at a project.
“Our customers immediately loved the chairs and provided invaluable feedback,” Marino stated.
“We then ordered another 1,500.
“The tribal gaming commission checks all receivables on tribal properties, potentially making delivery more complicated but Tom York, our Gasser rep, facilitated everything and was always amicable during the multi-day process,” he concluded.