Sonoma County Approves New Deal With Graton Rancheria For Casino Expansion

Written By Nicholaus Garcia on June 9, 2023
Cash and Poker Chips with California Tribal Gambling and Graton Rancheria

Sonoma County officials approved a new deal with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria that will see the tribe pay the county $14.5 million for updates to its California casino near Rohnert Park.

The Graton Rancheria, a federally recognized Indian tribe, comprises the Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo Indians. Tribal lands are located in Rohnert Park and Sonoma County, CA.

The changes were approved Tuesday by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. However, Rohnert Park has yet to approve its own updated agreement.

Building on existing relationships

According to a post by the Press Democrat, Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, whose county district includes the casino, said:

“We cannot dictate what tribes do on their land, (as) a sovereign nation. But we can have a relationship to make sure, within the greater community, any impact is properly mitigated — seen here in this agreement going forward.”

The tribe’s expansion plans and renegotiated compact with California triggered renegotiations with Sonoma County. 

The new compact replaces the old one signed in 2012. The updated compact increases the number of slot machines from 3,000 to 6,000 and gives the tribe extra gaming floor space.

In a statement shared by the tribe’s attorney Bethany Sullivan, Graton Rancheria Tribal Chair Greg Sarris said: “We are very pleased to be here today to support this amended agreement. It continues the work that we’ve done over the last decades.”

Casino expansion is one of the largest in California

The $825 million casino expansion plan stands to be one of the largest commercial building projects in Sonoma County.

Tribal plans call for doubling the size of the existing gaming floor by adding up to 3,000 slot machines, building another 200-plus hotel rooms and adding a large performance theater and rooftop restaurant.

Groundbreaking work on the expansion is set to begin later this month.

Payments to Sonoma County will take effect once the US Secretary of the Interior signs off on the tribal-state compact. Until then, the county will continue to receive payments via the Graton Mitigation Fund as outlined by the previous agreement.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Nicholaus Garcia

Nick Garcia is a senior reporter for PlayUSA. Garcia provides analysis and in-depth coverage of the gambling industry with a key focus on online casinos, sports betting and financial markets. Garcia has been covering the US gambling market since 2017. He attended Texas Tech University as an undergrad and received a Master of Arts in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago.

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