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Koi Nation Preps For Another Hurdle In Pursuit Of California Casino

Written By J.R. Duren on September 26, 2023 - Last Updated on November 7, 2023
Shiloh Resort & Casino Rendering 1 with Koi Nation Sonoma logo

The Koi Nation’s pursuit of a casino in Sonoma County, California, has been a rocky road. Tomorrow, it’s likely going to get rockier.

The tribe’s plans for building a Shiloh Casino & Resort in Windsor will undergo a public hearing tomorrow night in response to results from an environmental impact study by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).

In 2022, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted against the casino. At the public hearing, the Koi will likely face opposition from residents and other tribes.

What the BIA study says about Shiloh Casino

As part of the tribal casino development process, the BIA had to conduct an environmental impact study of Koi Nation’s casino plans.

The study analyzes how the proposed casino would affect the land, wildlife, and economy intertwined with the parcel of land where the Shiloh Casino would be built.

Here are a few takeaways from the BIA’s impact assessment:

  • The development wouldn’t impact a riparian (wetlands next to a river or stream) corridor near the property.
  • Vegetation removal would impact salmon that may find their way into a creek that runs through the middle of the property.
  • The California red-legged frog, which has the potential to live on the property, would be negatively impacted by the development.
  • Pre-construction surveys would limit the impact on migratory birds to “less-than-significant” levels.
  •  State and federal taxes on the construction project would be nearly $70 million.
  • The casino and resort would generate $2.5 million in county taxes.
  • The impact on the local housing market (property values, new construction) would be minimal.
  • Crime rates in the area wouldn’t see a “material increase.”
  • Changes to the topography, soil loss, and earthquake risk could be significant over time.
  • The total economic output of the casino resort would be $292.0 million. However, because of the way the output would be distributed to businesses and various industries, the regional commercial growth wouldn’t be significantly impacted.

The project would provide a significant economic boost for the tribe, which received its federally recognized status in 2019 after a hard-fought battle. In 2021, when Koi Nation revealed casino plans, Tribal Chairman David Beltran said:

“With this land and the Shiloh Resort & Casino, we are taking long overdue steps to preserve our cultural and historic integrity and secure a brighter future for coming generations.

At the same time, our success will also benefit the communities in the region where our people have lived for thousands of years. We are confident the community will support us as we seek to restore our independence and exercise our rights as Native Americans.”

Shiloh Resort & Casino Rendering 3
Shiloh Resort & Casino rendering courtesy of Koi Nation Sonoma

Koi Nation’s backup plans include smaller casino or no casino at all

The Koi Nation plans to build a 538,137-square-foot casino with:

  • 2,750 gaming machines
  • 105 table games
  • A hotel with 400 rooms
  • More than 5,000 parking spaces

However, it submitted several alternatives to the BIA, presumably as a backup plan if the primary casino plan is too contentious.

The first alternative is a “reduced intensity” option that maintains the same number of electronic and table games but reduces the casino’s square footage by roughly 20%.

To get to that smaller footprint, the Koi Nation would have to eliminate plans for an event center and reduce the square footage of several areas in the casino. Additionally, the smaller casino would reduce parking spots by roughly 600 spaces.

The second alternative would be a non-gaming option with a winery and visitor center, a 200-room hotel, and 492 parking spaces.

Photo by Koi Nation Sonoma; illustrated by PlayUSA
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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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