Could California's Largest Casino Transform the State's Relationship with Gaming?
After winning congressional approval in 2000 to be re-established as a recognized tribe in Sonoma County, the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria spent more than a decade to build a casino in Rohnert Park. After reaching separate agreements with Rohnert Park, Sonoma County and the State of California, the tribe's $800 million Graton Resort & Casino, located next to Highway 101, will be closest tribal casino to San Francisco.
"Industry analysts say the new development – with 3,000 slot machines and 144 gambling tables beneath chandeliers that glitter with 24,000 pink glass flower petals – may transform gambling in California, intensifying competition among high-end resorts and the pressure to build casinos near major highways and urban centers," writes Peter Hecht.
There was much local opposition to the casino, but the tribe made improvements such as road upgrades and facade changes. “They have been good partners,” said Rohnert Park Mayor Pam Stafford, who was elected in 2006 as a staunch casino opponent. “They have been very responsible in how they worked with us to see what the impacts would be, and they have been very generous in helping financially to deal with those issues.”
Currently, there are 71 signed and ratified Tribal-State Gaming Compacts in California. Another major casino development is planned near Highway 99 in Madera County, close to Fresno and the greater San Joaquin Valley.