River Rock Authority Plans to Replace Starter Casino

On June 29, 2007, the River Rock Entertainment Authority has publicly announced their plans to replace their 62,000 starter casino facility near the Sonoma County community with a 600,000 Tuscan themed casino facility.

The $300 million resort will include an immense casino facility, 260 hotel rooms and suites, a convention facility, a swimming pool and different dining facilities.

The River Rock Entertainment is a tribal governing arm of the Dry Creek Racheria Band of Pomo Indians, which is a federally recognized Indian tribe.

The tribe currently has 947 official members and a 75 acre land reservation in Sonoma County. The tribe’s starter casino, which debuted in 2002, will immediately shut down when the new casino resort opens.

Taking into consideration the wineries that surround it, the brand new resort has been designed to look like a Tuscan village, complete with courtyards, gardens, and buildings of different heights.

It would also overlook the Alexander Valley from the Dry Creek Rancheria Tribe’s off the Highway 128 between Healdsburg and Geyserville, which is just 75 miles north of San Francisco, an area famous for its wine producers. The new casino facility is estimated to hire 2,000 new employees.

In the meantime, the Sonoma County government appears to be hesitant about publicly acknowledging the casino’s existence. There is not even a hint of the casino at the “Points of Interest” section on the online site of the county.

Ben Stone, the Director of the county’s Economic Development Board, said that they do not have the time to fix it yet. Bruce Goldstein from the county’s attorney office said that the casino is a very controversial issue in the county.

He said that the Board of Supervisors and the county has been generally opposed to any casino development in the county, but that is really a federal problem. They also do not have any control over the land. They also know that the tribe has a gaming compact with the state which allows them to offer gaming.

The county is wary of the plan because it does not see gambling casinos as an important part of their plan for the area. However, it is possible that more casinos will be built in Sonoma in the near future since the county is the home of 5 Indian tribes.

All of the tribes have received federal recognition. Goldstein said that they are currently trying to work with the casino to lessen the problems that the casino would cause, like traffic and an increase in crime, so that the community will not be overburdened by the cost of these problems and the casino’s development.

A spokesman for the casino did not comment on the issue. The CEO of the River Rock Entertainment Authority, Shawn Smyth, said that they will carefully follow the environmental review in building their casino.

The environmental review is in accordance with the Tribal-State gaming compact and the tribe’s laws and regulations. The Dry Creek Indian Tribe also plans to spend $76 million in infrastructure to support the new facilities in the casino, like a wastewater treatment facility.


09 July, 2007