Interior's Inaction Allows Tribe to Move Forward With Sonoma County Casino


The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria has weathered through nine years of opposition to its proposed casino in Sonoma County. At last, the tribe has passed its final bureaucratic hurdle, reported the pressdemocrat.com.

On Friday, the federal government passively allowed the tribal-state compact to pass. The California State Assembly ratified the compact on May 10 for a casino with 3,000 slot machines and banking card games, located adjacent to the city of Rohnert Park. The Interior Department had 45 days to ratify or reject it. Due to lack of action, the compact automatically goes into effect.

The tribe anticipated approval, and has already held job fairs and commenced executive recruitment for the casino, expected to be one of the largest developments in the history of the North Bay.

County officials and the Rancheria will negotiate how to minimize the impacts of the facility over the next 90 days. They have already begun discussing environmental concerns regarding the project's effect on groundwater and private wells.

In accordance with the National Indian Gaming Commission’s order of approval for the project, the tribe must break ground on the project during the dry season, April 15 to October 15, said Scott Nielson, executive vice president for Station Casinos. The Las Vegas-based gaming company will manage the tribal casino for its first seven years. Station Casinos has covered $200 million in financing for the Sonoma County project, which is estimated to cost $700 million.