California’s Sky River Casino celebrates first anniversary, reveals plans for expansion
Sacramento County's first tribal casino in California, the Sky River Casino is celebrating its first anniversary. The $550 million casino, located near Highway 99 and Kammerer Road, opened on August 15th, 2022. Sky River Casino, is operated by Boyd Gaming on land owned by the Wilton Rancheria, the county's only federally recognized tribe. The casino was built on the site of Elk Grove's long-dormant outlet mall, called the ‘Ghost Mall,' which was razed in 2019 after 11 years of development stagnation.
According to Elk Grove Citizen, the tribe primarily consists of Miwok and Nisenan people and has their tribal government, regaining that recognition in 2009, 50 years after having that status terminated by the federal government. The casino aims to fulfill the tribe's main goal, enabling members of the tribe to achieve self-sufficiency through proceeds from the resort.
The casino currently houses 2,100 slot machines, over 80 gaming tables, and 17 bars and restaurants. During the past year, the casino created more than 1,600 jobs in the community.
Sky River Casino, Elk Grove, California
Upcoming developments for Elk Grove's Sky River Casino
Sky River Casino, on August 10th at a media event, revealed the casino's current and upcoming offerings. The casino is set to add a whiskey and cigar lounge, called The Humidor, to its offerings next year. The lounge will be located next to the sports bar and pub, 32 Brews Street. There will also be a major on-site expansion, which will include a hotel, pool, spa, parking garage, and event space.
Chris Gibase, president and CEO of the casino, during the event, announced that Sky River will give away eight Land Rover Defender vehicles and about 80 Las Vegas getaway trips to lucky reward members as part of its $1 Million First in Class Anniversary Giveaway.
Gibase, in an interview with the Citizen, said that Sky River has been well received by the public since its first day of operation.
He said: “It's hard to imagine that last August 15th, in the middle of the night, we did something that we thought was fun, which was (to) send a social media (announcement that the casino was open). And people came flooding in, like within minutes. And they've been here ever since. So, it's been a really exciting year.”
He added: “If you're going to play a slot machine, you're going to play a slot machine. What separates is the treatment you get while you're playing that slot machine or while you're having dinner. And we do everything we possibly can to make sure we exceed everybody's expectations.”
Wilton Rancheria to host longest-running California Indian Day powwow
Speaking to the media on the same day, Wilton Rancheria Chair Jesus Tarango said that it is important to his tribe to share information about who they are culturally with the community.
He also announced that next year Wilton Rancheria will host the “longest-running California Indian Day powwow” in Sacramento.
Wilton Rancheria Chair Jesus Tarango
Speaking to the Citizen during the event, Tarango noted that reaching the first anniversary of the casino is reflective of the positive work performed by the tribe's leadership and partners.
He said: “Wilton Rancheria definitely had the opportunity to do something amazing, but you still have to step up to the plate and do the work. And I think that our partners here for gaming have done that, and I think the tribe has done the same thing, holding up our end of the obligations and what we're supposed to do. So, it's a beautiful day.”
As per the cited source, Wilton Rancheria will contribute nearly $132 million in recurring payments to the city and community of Elk Grove through a memorandum of understanding agreement that was approved by the Elk Grove City Council in 2016. The tribe has made several of those payments and will make their first recurring payment in the amount of $1 million next month.
Speaking about the tribe's contributions Tarango said: “We have an obligation not only to give back to the people of the city of Elk Grove, but the bigger community, the bigger picture. And so, for that, I think that's one of the things that we pride ourselves on, and definitely look forward to the future of making sure that even if you don't step foot in Sky River, you're going to benefit from us being here.”
Tarango declined to disclose how much the casino had grossed since last year but said that it was exceeding their expectations.
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