On January 18th, 2008, it is highly anticipated that millions of dollars will start coming into El Dorado County after the opening of the region’s latest Indian Casino facility and its 2,000 slot machines, seventy-five gaming tables, six eating establishments and 4 bars. The casino facility is also expected to pick local vendors and make important contributions to charities. The Chief Executive Officer of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce said that there is always a significant economic impact when a business as huge as this opens to the gaming public. Mindy Marks, the assistant professor of economics at University of California, Riverside and co-author of “Lands of Opportunity: Social and Economic Effects of Tribal Gaming on Localities” said that Indian casino facilities, as a whole, can be considered a positive economic development for the community.
Marks acknowledged that the cash spent at the casino facility could just be give from one place to another, leaving other casino facilities with less profit. But casino employees could also bring a lot of benefits to county businesses. Red Hawk’s 1,750 employees will make it the biggest employer in the county. Suzanne O’Keefe, the associate professor of economics at California State University, Sacramento said that with the existing unemployment rate as high as it is, it will have a good effect for at least 1,700 families. She added that they have been losing jobs in the range of ten thousand in their region in the last year and it helps put a stop in that problem. It is hard to guess how much prosperity a brand new casino can bring to a community but the success of the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln gives some insight.
The United Auburn Indian Community casino, which opened in 2003, is located along the Interstate 80, on the way to Reno, Nevada. Its size can be compared to the Red Hawk casino, with over 2,600 slot machines and ninety-eight casino table games. Greg Van Dusen, the Placer Valley Tourism chief executive officer said that they have good interceptor traffic heading up the hill. Doug Elmets, the spokesperson for the casino said that the Thunder Valley casino spends around thirty million dollars annually on food, gasoline and other goods, mostly from local vendors.
Elmets added that the United Auburn Indian Community is also considered to be one of the biggest philanthropic givers in the area, donating more than one million dollars annually. The Red Hawk Casino and its owners, the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians are expected to become vital donors to local charities. Although El Dorado County and residents around the Red Hawk fought the construction of the casino-it now stands as a positive economic stimulus for the area. The Shingle Springs tribe’s gaming compact with California gives the state twenty percent to twenty-five percent of its slot machines’ net win.
The El Dorado County stands to receive at least $191 million dollars over twenty years, of which $104 million dollars is allotted for Highway 50 improvements. Under a modified gambling compact signed on July 1st, 2008, the Indian tribe may deduct payments it makes for making HOV lanes on Highway 50 from its payment to the state. A half-million dollars of the new revenue will be given to law enforcement, for additional equipment and personnel to cope with the increase in traffic.