Koi Nation Rallies Support for Shiloh Resort Casino in California Wine Country

Posted on: January 11, 2024, 11:12h. 

Last updated on: January 11, 2024, 11:33h.

The Koi Nation of Northern California says it’s fielded widespread support for its $600 million tribal casino resort in Sonoma County.

Koi Nation Shiloh Casino California
The Koi Nation of Northern California is seeking federal rights to build a tribal casino in Santa Rosa. The $600 million development has gained support from other tribes in California but one powerful tribe remains in opposition. (Image: Town of Windsor)

The Koi Nation has faced considerable local opposition from residents and county officials, as well as from the powerful Graton Rancheria Tribe that owns and operates the Graton Casino & Resort in nearby Rohnert Park. The Graton casino is about 11 air miles from where the Koi Nation wants to build its casino in Santa Rosa.

In September 2021, the Koi Nation acquired nearly 69 acres along E. Shiloh Rd. and Old Redwood Highway. The property is currently a vineyard and private estate.

Since the tribe announced its intentions to build a tribal casino on its newly purchased land, the Graton Tribe has questioned whether the Koi people have historical ties to the area. That’s required for the US Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to take the land into the federal trust. Having the property designated as sovereign territory is the first step needed for the Koi Nation to move forward in operating a tribal casino.

Graton placed keeping its monopoly on gaming above self-determination for other Indian Tribes like the Koi Nation,” Koi Nation Chair Darin Beltran told The Press Democrat.

Graton argues the Koi people have historical ties to Lake County another 25 or so miles northeast of Santa Rosa.

Koi Fields Backing

In a press release this week, the Koi Nation says numerous other California tribes have lent their backing to the Shiloh Resort & Casino.

The Koi Nation is overjoyed its proposed project has received overwhelming support from a broad cross-section of the community, fellow Tribes, and the public,” Beltran said. “The coalition of our supporters share a recognition of the project’s immense value potential for the Sonoma County community and the moral imperative underlying our effort to right historical wrongs and reestablish our people’s Tribal land base.”

According to The Press Democrat, the Koi Nation’s land in Clear Lake was taken by white settlers in the 1870s. The US government gave 140 acres of land located near Lower Lake and Clear Lake Heights to the tribe in 1916. That land was transferred to Lake County in 1956, rendering the tribe landless. Many members ultimately moved to Sonoma County.

Along with 18 tribes issuing their support for the Shiloh project, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma (D) has backed the tribal casino.

The Koi’s would finance the project with support from the Chickasaw Nation, one of the richest tribes in the US, that’s based in Oklahoma and operates 23 casinos there.

Casino Scope

The initial blueprint for the Shiloh Resort & Casino calls for a 538,000-square-foot development with a casino floor spanning 114,000 square feet. The gaming space would include 2,750 slot machines, more than 100 table games, and a possible sportsbook, should California legalize sports betting.

The resort would feature a 400-room hotel, a spa, five restaurants, several bars, and a 44,000-square-foot ballroom.

The DOI is currently reviewing an environmental impact report prepared by the BIA. If the federal agency determines that the project won’t have a significant impact on the surrounding area, Interior officials will then consider the tribe’s claimed historical ties in determining whether to take the land into trust.

Among those opposed to the project include the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the Windsor Town Council, US Reps. Jared Huffman (D) and Mike Thompson (D), and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D).