On Tuesday, November 5, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria will open the doors to its $825 Graton Resort & Casino in the Sonoma County wine country—the most expensive tribal gaming facility in northern California, ABC7 News reported. Situated next to Highway 101 in Rohnert Park, it will be the closest tribal casino to San Francisco.
The debut of the 320,000 square-foot gaming facility will be the cumulation of more than a decade of planning.
“What you see is what $825 million buys you,” Greg Sarris, chairman of Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, told members of the media on a tour in late September, The Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reported.
The casino will feature 3,000 slot and video poker machines, 144 table games, nine restaurants and a 5,700-space parking lot. Casino operations will require more than 2,000 employees.
The casino, owned by the 1,300-member tribe and to be managed by Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc., is expected to prove an instant competitor in the California gambling market. “It certainly is going to grow the total amount of gaming revenue in California. It’s going to force Cache Creek and Thunder Valley to respond competitively. … We’re off to the races,” Ken Adams, a Reno-based casino industry analyst, told The Sacramento Bee.
A 2012 Standard and Poor’s market assessment projected the Graton resort's annual gambling revenue to surpass $530 million by 2016. General manager Joe Hasson, who formerly ran the Harrah’s and Harveys resorts in South Lake Tahoe, told The Sacramento Bee that the resort's opening has been promoted in the Bay Area with radio and TV commercials airing with “such frequency that we could elect someone governor.”
Doug Elmets, spokesman for the United Auburn Indian Community’s Thunder Valley resort, said the tribe “will continue to look for ways to differentiate ourselves from the competition, whether it’s Graton or anyone else.”