Lunar New Year celebrations often include special meals, family reunions, and gambling. These combinations could be why people who are celebrating will head to Southern California casinos in the Year of the Tiger, which starts on February 1st.
The celebration of the Lunar New Year dates back to the days when Chinese societies were agricultural and before industrialization. Farmers will have disposable income and time, allowing them to spend time with their families and prepare traditional meals such as dumplings. They also played games like mahjong, either for fun or to win some money.
Some casinos will offer their own version of the celebration this year, which will include decorated rooms with lanterns, exquisite dances, various Asian dishes, special promotions and gifts.
Here’s what Southern California casinos are offering this Lunar New Year.
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
84-245 Indio Springs Drive, Indio. 760-345-2450 fantasyspringsresort.com.
Starting Friday, January 28 at 6:00 AM, board game guests can earn entry tickets to Lunar New Year’s raffles. Until January 29, $28,888 in cash and a free game will be up for grabs, as well as the grand prize of a trip for two to anywhere in the world.
Fantasy Springs Resort Casino will also host a traditional lion dance on January 29 at 7:00 pm on the casino floor.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California
777 Harrah’s Rincon Way, Valley Center. 760-751-3100, harrahssocial.com
On Saturday, January 29, the casino hall will feature lion dancers and face-changing artists, with promotions running from noon to 5:00 pm.
The casino floor and hotel lobby will be decorated with traditional Lunar New Year decorations from January 25 to February 16.
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon. 951-849-3080, morongocasinoresort.com
Starting February 1st, Morongo Casino Resort & Spa will be decorating all casinos in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Lion and dragon dances will take place every hour from 19:00 to 22:00 on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 to 12 February.
Morongo also has several festive dinners that will take place from February 1st to 13th.
Good Times Café will offer steamed flounder fillet with baby bok choy, ginger, soy sauce, scallions and rice for $24.99, while Pink Coffee will offer a delicious mango-lychee mousse for $8.50.
Morongo Rewards members will receive a Chinese New Year tiger pendant while supplies last if they visit the Morongo Rewards office on February 4 starting at 8:00 AM.
Nu Kuoy Dau Xuan, Dam Vinh Hung, Quoc Tien & Thanh Le, Wang Son & Bao Liem, Hoai Tam, Hong Loan & Bao Quoc, and host Quang Min will perform at the Grand Ballroom on Sunday, February 6 at 5:00 pm. . . Tickets start at $60 and are available through Ticketmaster.
Pala Casino, Spa and Resort
11154 Highway 76, Pala. 760-510-5100 Palacasino.com
On Saturday, February 5, at 19:00, a public lion dance will take place in the casino. The celebration will feature decorations such as lanterns, cherry trees and fireworks.
Casino Pechanga Resort
45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula. 951-693-1819, pechanga.com
The Happy Lion Dancers from San Diego will begin their show at the north entrance of Pechanga and will enter the casino on Saturday, February 5 at 3:00 pm. The show will start with the traditional dances of the troupe, such as “waking up” lions with firecrackers. The lion dance show is free and open to all ages, but only those aged 21 or over are allowed into the casino areas.
Pechanga Resort Casino will also be offering special dinners at Umi Sushi & Oyster Bar, Bamboo Blazing Noodles from January 28th to February 13th.
Umi Sushi & Oyster offers three types of lobster ($98), chicken stuffed with sticky rice ($58), and eel lotus dishes ($42). According to a Pechanga press release, these dishes are served wrapped and stuffed as a sign of good luck.
Bamboo will serve steamed whole fish ($98) and noodles with beef tenderloin ($38). According to a press release from the casino, noodles mean an increase in wealth.
Blazing Noodles will offer eight traditional Asian dishes: fried shrimp balls; garlic lobster with noodles; sweet and sour ribs; fried red snapper; fried rice with beef curry; pork chops with black pepper; stewed tofu with bok choy, mushrooms and oyster sauce; and roast lamb with hot XO sauce. Meal prices range from $22 to $92.
Acorn, Corner and Round Bars will be serving Lunar New Year’s signature five-spice drink from January 28 to February 13. The five spices—cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds, star anise, and Sichuan pepper—represent the five elements of earth, water, fire, air, and metal. According to a press release, it is based on Chinese traditions describing these elements as life stages.
Yaamawa Resort and Casino
777 San Manuel Boulevard, Highland. 800-359-2464 www.yaamava.com
On February 1, Hong Bao Kitchen and Serrano Buffet casino restaurants will offer a special Lunar New Year menu and a lion dance on the casino floor.
Hong Bao Kitchen serves snacks from noon until 1am, including fried Vietnamese spring rolls ($14), Sichuan cabbage pickles ($10), and northeastern pork dumplings ($12). Specials include Beef Tenderloin with Black Pepper Sauce ($60), Grilled Seafood ($50), Steamed Chilean Sea Bass with Garlic Chili Pickle Sauce ($60), Bei Fung Tong Giant Shrimp ($70), and fried rice with seafood ($28). The restaurant will also offer momo cha cha, a sweet potato, taro and sago dessert with coconut milk ($10).
Dinner at Serrano Buffet will include steamed whole fish, ginger lobster, chicken thigh stew with beer, seafood fried rice and other specialties. Dinner is served from 16:00 to 22:00.
It is highly recommended that you reserve tables at restaurants through yaamava.com.
The dance troupe will perform at the casino site from 16:00 to 17:00 and from 18:00 to 19:00.
From February 4th to 6th, the casino will give away a total of $200,000 in cash and prizes.
Yaamawa’ is only open to guests over 21 years of age.