California: Graton Rancheria signs new compact doubling Graton Resort & Casino’s slot machines

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and the State of California have entered into a new Tribal-State gaming compact that could see the tribe double the slot machines available at their Graton Resort and Casino. The deal was announced by governor Newsom’s office on March 9. 

The compact will replace the agreement signed in 2012, and increases the number of authorized slot machines at the Graton casino from 3000 to 6000. The deal comes amid the tribe’s pursuit to enlarge not only its gaming floor but its hotel space outside Rohnert Park, positioning itself as a dominant player in the local hospitality market and California’s $8 billion annual tribal gaming industry. 

The gaming floor expansion could give the facility the second-largest slot floor in all of California. Only Yaamava’ Resort & Casino in Highland, owned and operated by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, has more, with 7,000 slot machines

The compact also increases the amount of money the rancheria pays into the Revenue Sharing Trust Fund, an allocation that benefits nongaming tribes. That quarterly payment would go from $2 million to $2.75 million if the tribe takes full advantage of its slot machine cap.

Yaamava' Resort & Casino in Highland.

Greg Sarris, tribal chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, said in a statement: “We’re happy to improve our compact with the State of California and continue to provide needed community funds for the City of Rohnert Park, Sonoma County and our state.”

This compact allows the tribe to grow as a self-sustaining sovereign nation and continue to support our mission of social justice and environmental stewardship,” Sarris added.

Both Rohnert Park and Sonoma County receive millions of dollars annually from the tribe to offset impacts on public services. Neither local government appeared to have been highly involved in the negotiations, reports North Bay Business Journal.

Under the new compact, the county and Rohnert Park would receive 2% of net wins, according to Jennifer Klein, Sonoma County’s chief deputy county counsel. She further explained the county does not know what it stands to receive in dollar amounts because it does not yet know what the tribe’s net revenue will amount to. 

Graton Resort and Casino opened in 2013 on the tribe’s 254-acre reservation off Wilfred Avenue outside Rohnert Park. Graton Rancheria last year announced plans for a major expansion of its gaming floor and a second hotel tower. Plans filed with the city of Rohnert Park call for enlarging the casino floor by 50% and adding a five-story, 221-room hotel tower.

The $825 million casino opened with 3,000 slot machines, 144 blackjack, poker and baccarat tables, and several restaurants to cater to visitors around the clock. A 200-room hotel, convention space and ballroom opened in 2016.

Graton is one of Sonoma County’s two tribal casinos. The county’s first tribal gaming operation, River Rock Casino, opened in 2002 near Geyserville. Another Pomo tribe, the Koi Nation, is seeking to develop a gaming resort outside Windsor, a move opposed by five Sonoma County-based tribes, as well as the Board of Supervisors.