With COVID-19 shutdowns in the rearview and the onset of the summer tourist season, some tribal-owned casinos in California have not only rebounded, they’re thriving.
A handful of tribes are expanding their properties and opening new facilities. Graton Resort and Casino in Northern California recently broke ground on the most extensive expansion this year: a $1 billion project that will double the size of the casino resort.
Here’s a breakdown of the Graton’s plans and other recent casino developments around The Golden State.
Expansion will double number of slot machines at Graton Casino
California houses more than 60 tribal-run casinos, and while online casinos are still prohibited in the state, players can still play their favorite casino games online for cash prizes. California online casinos consist of social and sweepstakes casinos where players can win prizes that can be redeemed for cash.
Casinos in California, however, are expanding like never before to entice more customers to come through their doors.
Graton Resort and Casino in Sonoma County is already among the cream of the crop of gambling establishments in California. With a luxury AAA Four Diamond hotel, a 318,000-square-foot gaming floor, over 3,000 slots, 120 tables games and an extensive non-smoking gaming area, the casino stands out among the state’s gaming entities.
It is already the largest gaming facility in the Bay area.
Graton ranks fifth in the state in revenue generated from slot machines. The top spot belongs to Yaamava’ Resort & Casino in Southern California, which has 7,000 slots and 150 table games. Graton’s expansion plans include adding 144,000 square feet of gaming space to house 3,000 more slot machines and 20 more table games.
A new gaming compact reached with the state in March allows Graton to add additional slots, with a cap of 6,000. When the expansion is finished, Graton will boast the second most slots in the state, ahead of Pechanga Resort Casino in Temecula, which has 5,400 slots.
Expansion project includes more hotel rooms and rooftop restaurant
The expansion will be the second major construction project since the casino opened to great fanfare in 2013. The last significant addition was in 2016, when the casino added a hotel, a ballroom and a spa.
But gaming machines and tables are just the tip of the iceberg in Graton’s newest expansion. Plans also include:
- A new six-story hotel wing with an additional 221 rooms.
- An expanded swimming pool area.
- A five-story parking garage with 1,500 spaces and a pedestrian walkway to the casino area. The garage will also have EV charging stations and solar panels.
- A rooftop restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and a guest capacity of 480.
- A sports bar.
- A 3,500-seat live-entertainment theater.
The project is set for completion in late 2025. The casino expects to add 600 permanent jobs and provide 2,000 temporary construction jobs, said Greg Sarris, tribal chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
“The expansion reflects our consistent mission to provide the highest quality guest experience at Graton Resort and Casino. We’ve been working on these plans for several years. And we’re excited to create new job opportunities here in Sonoma County.”
As Graton will now have more slot machines, the tribe’s quarterly payout to the state’s Revenue Sharing Trust Fund and the Tribal Nation Grant Fund will increase from $2 million to $2.75 million. The tribe also renegotiated its annual payout agreement with Sonoma County, with the local government receiving $14.5 million at the outset.
Other expansions and openings around the state
Eagle Mountain Casino redux
In late April, the Tule River Tribe held a surprise opening of its new Eagle Mountain Casino in Porterville. An official grand opening followed in May. The new casino replaces a closed facility of the same name on the tribe’s reservation.
The new Eagle Mountain sits next to the Porterville Fairgrounds off Highway 65. It has over 1,750 slot machines, 20 tables games, a 2,000-seat events center and restaurants.
Red Hawk Casino’s new lodging
In mid-May, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians added a 156-room luxury hotel to its Red Hawk Casino in Placerville. The state-of-the-art five-story hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows in every room with views of the area’s foothills and 25 premium suites.
High-limit slots room at Morongo Casino
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is adding a high-limits slots room to its casino. The expansion will take over the space of the valet parking lot. The casino will add 170 slots with betting denominations of $1 to $100. The space will also include a bar, food service and large-screen TVs.
A boutique hotel at Jamul Casino
In the San Diego area, the Jamul Indian Village Development Corporation announced the addition of a boutique hotel to its casino in May. Construction is already underway on the 16-story hotel. Features of the structure include 200 rooms, a six-story parking lot, a restaurant and a full-service spa. The rooftop will have a pool deck with cabanas, a jetted hot tub and a bar.
The Jamul Indian Village aims to earn a AAA Four Diamond rating for the hotel.