Sonoma County approves expansion of Graton Resort & Casino

June 7, 2023
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Expansion will begin later this month, with plans for the Graton Rancheria Tribe to contribute higher annual payments to the county.

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, owner of the Graton Resort & Casino, has revised a deal with Sonoma County for expansion of its venue near Rohnert Park. The Tribe’s plans were approved Tuesday by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.

The County currently receives approximately $9m a year from the Tribe and predicts this figure will rise an additional $5m annually after the expansion. Graton Rancheria’s payments will rise to around $14.5m, which will fulfil a state requirement of the Tribe paying 2% of its net winnings.

The casino opened in 2013 and is the largest in the Bay Area, located on 254 acres of reservation land. The expansion would add a 28,000-square-foot rooftop restaurant, a six-story new hotel wing, a 3,500-seat theater and a five-story parking lot. A new state gaming compact would also allow a further 3,000 slot machines to be added.

Groundbreaking will begin later this month. Rohnert Park, which receives yearly offset payments of $16m, is still negotiating an updated agreement with the Graton Rancheria Tribe. Offset payments to Sonoma County will cover the casino’s potential impacts on public safety, local traffic, fire services, tourism, affordable housing and other community concerns.

Sonoma County District 2 Supervisor David Rabbitt said, “We cannot dictate what tribes do on their land. 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 Graton Rancheria will also make “community benefit” payments annually. These payments will start at $3m, increase to $7m as the project progresses and go to: the Sonoma County Regional Parks, Tolay Lake Regional Park and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed off on the Tribe’s new gaming compact, for which final approval is now pending from the US Secretary of the Interior.

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