From the Archives: Viejas reservation casino opened 30 years ago

Thirty years ago this week, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians opened a $4.5 million casino on the reservation off Interstate 8 near Alpine.

A thin layer of smoke hung low in the deep-crimson Dragon Room, where high rollers flashing Rolex watches and winning smiles tossed $100 bills across green felt tables with studied nonchalance.

Across the casino, at the “high-stakes” poker table, a half-dozen men sporting T-shirts and jogging pants sipped on soft drinks and ran their fingers over stacks of “nickels” ($5 chips), talking over the quiet clatter of fortunes won and lost.