Wilton Rancheria Elk Grove Casino Project Delayed Until 2021

Posted on: January 13, 2020, 10:04h. 

Last updated on: January 13, 2020, 10:50h.

Wilton Rancheria’s plan to open the first tribal gaming property in Sacramento County, Calif. will have to a wait awhile longer than previously hoped because of plans to redesign some parts of the venue.

Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock highlights plans for a casino that will open in 2021, not this year, as expected. (Image: Elk Grove Citizen)

Last year, the tribe said it was targeting a late 2020 opening for the gaming property. But that date is being pushed back to late next year. Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock said “a few areas” called for redesign, and that caused delays. But he noted the effort is now “back on track.” Hitchcock didn’t identify what parts of the project required alteration.

As far as an update on timing, we’re most likely waiting for the spring to hit, so we’re not in the wet season, because we have in-ground infrastructure,” he said in an interview with The Elk Grove Citizen. “And it’s an 18-month (construction process). So, if you do the math, that’s late 2021 for opening for the project.”

Wilton Rancheria is building the gaming property on a 35.9-acre patch of land along Highway 99 in Elk Grove, Calif. The tribe is working with Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming on the project and it’s expected to create 1,600 construction jobs and 1,750 permanent roles once the venue opens.

Lingering Opposition

As Casino.org reported last October, Wilton Rancheria scored a legal win to move forward with the project after US District Court Trevor McFadden dismissed a motion seeking to block the gaming property brought by Stand Up for California!

Stand Up for California! is an activist group with a history of opposing tribal gaming expansion in the Golden State.

“At the federal level, we are seeking amendments to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and changes in policy and administration rules that enhance regulatory oversight and give voice to affected parties in the location, size and scope of tribal gaming developments,” according to the organization.

Regarding the Wilton Rancheria plan, Stand Up for California! believes the case isn’t closed and is appealing McFadden’s ruling.

Hitchcock said the tribe will move forward with building the gaming property, dismissing Stand Up’s legal maneuvering as “white noise.”

Costs And Plans

The land on which the Elk Grove casino will be situated was acquired by the tribe and Boyd Gaming in 2017 for $36 million, or about $1 million per acre. Wilton Rancheria forecast total construction cost at $500 million.

When finished, 97.3 percent of the square footage will be allocated to non-gaming amenities, such as hotel rooms, meeting space, restaurants, and shops. The remaining space will be allocated to the casino floor, but the tribe hasn’t yet released a breakdown of slots and table games.

The largest tribal gaming property in Northern California is Thunder Valley Casino-Resort in Lincoln. That venue has 144,500 square feet of gaming space, with 2,700 slot machines and 103 table games, a poker room and a bingo area.