Banner Day For Elk Grove: Wilton Rancheria, Boyd Gaming Break Ground On New Casino

Written By Martin Harris on March 17, 2021

There’s a new casino going up in northern California.

Building has begun on the Sky River Casino near Sacramento, although it shouldn’t be until late 2022 before the property opens and the games begin.

Last week, representatives of the Wilton Rancheria tribe and Boyd Gaming broke ground to signal the start of construction on the $400 million property. The casino will be located off Highway 99 in Elk Grove, about a 20-minute drive south of the state capital.

Casino and dining first, hotel and convention center to come

According to the Sacramento Bee, Boyd officials have indicated the gaming floor will include 2,000 slot machines and 80 table games, including a poker room.

Plans include a large hotel and convention center as well. Though construction of the casino — plus several restaurants and a pub — will come first.

Representing Boyd, spokesperson David Strow explained how this strategy will enable the tribe to begin generating revenue from the casino as the hotel and other amenities are added.

In December, Boyd purchased 64 acres from the Texas-based Howard Hughes Development Corp. with an eye toward building the casino on the site of a never-completed Elk Grove outlet mall project, referred to by locals as the unfinished “Ghost Mall.”

Construction on the project should employ 1,500 workers. The finished casino will provide another 2,000 jobs, according to officials.

Sky River Casino first California venture for Boyd Gaming

Headquartered in Elk Grove, the Wilton Rancheria tribe of about 700 members achieved federal recognition in 2009. However, it took until 2017 for the tribe to establish a tribal-state compact with then-Gov. Jerry Brown before offering gaming.

The property will generate revenue for tribal welfare. Among the areas the tribe expects to improve are housing, health care and education.

Sky River Casino will also support the surrounding area. The tribe has pledged $186 million to support public safety, education and infrastructure in Elk Grove and Sacramento County .

“This creates a vibrant entertainment district,” said Elk Grove mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen at the groundbreaking. She described the new casino as a “destination driver” that will provide “a great opportunity to capture those tax dollars.”

Not only will Sky River Casino be the first gaming property for the tribe, but it will also be the first California property for Boyd Gaming, which operates 11 casinos in nine other states.

The casino will encounter plenty of nearby competition from other northern California casinos and card rooms. There are a half-dozen other tribal casinos situated in and around Sacramento, plus several card rooms as well.

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