Ten years ago today, on July 31, 2002, Rolling Hills Casino opened its doors for the first time. A steady line of cars — backed up to Liberal Avenue —streamed into the parking lot with people from across the North State wanting to be among the first to play at the new Casino.
Only 30 days earlier, the final stage of construction was still underway, and entering the casino interior required wearing a hard hat. As finishing touches were completed, excitement grew. The maple woodwork, stone pillars, and lighting fixtures were beautiful. The stone fountain was magnificent. Mature olive trees and other landscaping transformed land that only one year earlier was dry open range. This was the first casino in Northern California that did not originate in a tent, and there was real community pride in its design. It was evident that Rolling Hills Casino would be a majestic landmark at the gateway to Tehama County.
One week before the casino opened, there was a surge of activity as most of the casino’s newly hired staff began preparations for opening. A crew of slot technicians furiously filled slot machines with tokens. Prep cooks chopped food in the Buffet. Guest Services staff stocked shelves in the gift shop, while housekeepers left no detail unpolished. Excitement grew as employees, many of whom had never worked in a casino, trained for their new jobs.
Almost 80 of the 350+ staff members who worked the first day still work at the Casino. The employee roster quickly grew to 500 employees, most of whom work full time and enjoy 401k and health care benefits.
Opening night was a true celebration as hundreds of people walked through the door with anticipation and enthusiasm. It was both a joyous and chaotic occasion, as employees served guests for the first time. There were many unanticipated challenges for the staff to handle, including carpet shedding. Anyone who attended opening day learned something about new wool carpets. As the opening night progressed, our beautiful flooring became a sea of carpet fiber that rose with the numbers of people wading through it. Fortunately, the shedding was only temporary, but vacuuming shedding fibers kept our Housekeeping staff busy for a week.
The performance of our employees that day and every day since is a testament to our motto, “ Respect, fun, and a smile, the Rolling Hills Way.” A lot has happened in the past ten years, and Rolling Hills Casino is still a great place to work and play.