California College Partners With Tribal Casino For Student Housing

Posted on: August 25, 2023, 08:23h. 

Last updated on: August 27, 2023, 12:11h.

A California community college in need of student housing has partnered with a nearby tribal casino to use its hotel rooms as dormitories.

California college tribal casino Bear River
The Bear River Casino Resort in Humboldt County is serving as student housing for the College of the Redwoods. The California college is in rural Eureka along the Pacific coast. (Image: Travel Weekly)

The College of the Redwoods in rural Eureka says finding affordable off-campus housing has become increasingly difficult for students enrolled at the public community college.

The college is one of only 12 schools in the California Community Colleges System to offer on-campus housing. But those dormitories, school officials say, have quickly sold out in recent years.

For this fall’s semester, the school — located in Humboldt County, about 100 miles south of the Oregon border along the Pacific coast — struck an agreement with the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria Tribe to house students at its Bear River Casino Resort. The tribal casino is about a 10-minute drive south of the campus.

Mutually Beneficial

The Bear River Casino Resort offers guests 358 slot machines and a dozen table games. The resort features 104 guest rooms. But the tribe says the hotel rarely sells out.

With the College of the Redwoods looking for housing and the tribe having the rooms, the two struck a deal to bring students to the tribal casino. The tribe is offering the rooms at the same rates as the college’s on-campus dormitories.

These additional housing options allow our students to fully immerse themselves in their academic journey without the burden of finding suitable accommodation elsewhere,” said Dr. Keith Flamer, College of the Redwoods president.

The casino provides students with a twice-daily weekday shuttle to the campus free of charge at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

“In recent years, more students are having trouble finding affordable housing off-campus. The strategic location of the Bear River Hotel ensures that students will have convenient access to the college’s facilities and resources, minimizing commute time and expenses,” a statement from the school read. “This partnership aligns with College of the Redwoods’ commitment to offering a supportive environment for its diverse student population, ensuring that no student in need of housing will be turned away.”

Forbes reported recently that colleges across the country are incurring student housing shortfalls as fewer students are moving off-campus because of expensive rents. As a result, many colleges are seeking partnerships with nearby hotels to offer students similar rates as on-campus dorms.

Casinos and Colleges

Using a casino for student housing isn’t a new concept. On the country’s other coast, Stockton University in New Jersey acquired the former Showboat Atlantic City casino resort from Caesars Entertainment in 2014 for $18 million. Caesars had shuttered the Boardwalk property earlier that year to alleviate market competition for its other casinos in town.

Stockton planned to convert the resort and hotel into a student housing complex for 500 students. But pushback from nearby casinos threw the project into legal uncertainty. The casinos argued the city allowing Stockton to house hundreds of underage students on the casino corridor would pose many regulatory concerns.

Stockton eventually folded on the student housing plan and sold the Showboat in 2016 for $23 million.