The future of Win-River Resort & Casino in Redding, California, is up in the air.
In late December, the Redding City Council voted unanimously to oppose the proposed move of the Win-River Resort & Casino to tribal-owned property near the city that many feel should remain agricultural land.
The federal government will decide the issue. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has the authority to approve the move sought by Redding Rancheria, a California tribal government that mixes members with Pit River, Wintu, and Yana people.
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The Redding City Council has announced that it will send a letter to the BIA explaining its opposition and vote.
The Redding Rancheria asked the BIA to approve its proposed plan last December. That proposal was criticized by members of the Redding City Council and other community leaders. The new casino and resort would be located on tribe-owned land just south of South Bonneyview Road, land that is primarily used for farming, 2 miles northeast of the current casino.
Win-River Resort & Casino Proposal
Redding Rancheria has proposed an expansive project that would include a hotel/resort, the Win-River Casino, a state-of-the-art event center, restaurant, and entertainment venue planned to attract music and comedy performers to the region.
Specifically, the new project would have 1,200 slot machines, 36 table games, 69,000 square feet of gaming space, a 250-room hotel, an 1,800-seat event center, and a 1,500-seat outdoor amphitheater. The current casino has 600 slot machines and 12 table games in 75,000 square feet of gaming space.
“This is a discretionary decision of the federal government,” tribal attorney Michael Hallowell told KRCR-TV in December. “And so, they have the ultimate say in whether this land goes into the trust. But, the tribe’s happy that the process is moving forward. (The) tribe’s happy that we’re moving in the right direction.”
According to members of the Redding City Council, a five-person governing committee that also includes the mayor, who was not present for the December vote, more than 6,000 signatures and 400 emails were received in opposition to the plan. The current Win-River Resort & Casino is located south of the city, near State Highway 273, west of Interstate 5. It was opened in 1993, but has undergone at least two renovations.
Why Redding Rancheria Wants to Move Its Casino
The Redding Rancheria claims the casino cannot further expand and improve at its current location. It also points to the new land as closer to I-5 and easier to access for locals and tourists in Northern California. Shasta State Historic Park, which features ruins of an 1800s gold-rush mining town, and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area are popular tourist attractions in that far-north region of the state.
Some local leaders are not in favor of the new plan for their own reasons.
Steve Williams, president of the Shasta County Residents for Responsible Community Development, believes the community should be more involved in major decisions like the building of a large casino and resort.
“My concern all along has been, if they’re a good neighbor, why are they pushing so hard to develop a property none of us could develop in a similar fashion? And, it seems unfair that they’re trying to bypass a public input process where we could all collectively weigh in on that,” Williams told KRCR-TV in late December.
What Role Does the BIA Have?
Gaming in California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, is somewhat in flux. Last November, voters rejected two ballot initiatives that would have legalized sports betting in California.
One would have allowed sports betting operators such as FanDuel California and DraftKings California to launch. The other would have allowed retail sports betting at Indian casinos and four licensed horse racetracks.
The Redding Rancheria opposed Prop 27. The measure was criticized for letting “out of state” sportsbooks swoop into California for financial gain.
Rarely does the BIA make a unilateral decision that contradicts the desires of a local government. But there have been times when the feds have approved land usage for tribes that do favor that nation. The next step in the process is a decision by the BIA. Or there could be hearings to allow citizens to place their opinions concerning the new Win-River property on record.
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