Small California Cities Eager For More Gambling Opportunities

Written By Aleeyah Jadavji on February 2, 2023
Gambling expansions benefit small California cities

In recent months, there have been both advancements and setbacks in California’s gambling world. In November, Propositions 26 and 27 to bring sports betting to the state were rejected soundly by voters. Two months earlier, however, lawmakers put an end to the moratorium on new cardrooms.

As with gambling itself, you take the good with the bad.

Positive impacts of gambling felt across California

There are more than 70 casinos and 100 card rooms across the state, as California gambling options are widespread. There are also top-tier horse racing venues and the California Lottery to scratch the gambling itch.

California cardrooms and casinos also offer plenty of benefits to local communities. Revenue from gaming funds many entities, services, projects and good causes throughout California. Economies thrive and more jobs are available.

Some small cities in the state see similar benefits, but they can have a bigger impact. Gambling expansion brings new visitors to a town, which in turn boosts other sectors, from hospitality to restaurants, housing to investments.

We’ll take a look at four small cities in California with populations under 50,000 to see how gambling expansions could impact their communities in 2023.


The town of Yreka, population 7,826, is in Northern California, just 22 miles from the Oregon border. Rain Rock Casino in Yreka is expanding, and the community is excited, says Mayor Duane Kegg.

“I think it’s great and should help bring more people to the community. … For every dollar spent in Yreka, 75% will get recirculated back into this community, so it’s huge. For them to expand on this just means more value for the city of Yreka.”

The grand opening of the Northern California casino is set for 2024. The small casino will become a large resort with a 43,000-square-foot hotel sporting 80 rooms, 12 cottages and an events center. There will also be a 15,000-square-foot garden area with a pool, hot tubs and waterfalls. The casino space will expand to fit more slot machines and table games. 

The expansion will create 50 new jobs. Part of the casino’s contract with the city includes paying the salary of a police officer as well as purchasing a new vehicle for the police force every four years. 


The town of Marina, population 22,507, sits south of San Jose on Monterey Bay. Mayor Bruce Delgado is still hoping the town will see a new cardroom added in 2023. The project was proposed last September after the moratorium on new cardrooms was lifted, but has since been delayed.

A new social club could potentially bring in more than $100,000 per year in gaming taxes, as well as cover the cost of paying the salary of a police officer. 

Even though California’s cardroom moratorium expired on Jan. 1, the town of Marina enacted its own moratorium. The Marina City Council must decide whether to end it.


The city of Atwater, population 31,978, can be found off state Highway 99 between Fresno and Modesto. Atwater council member Brian Raymond publicly expressed his support for in-person California sports betting Proposition 26.

“For the record, I absolutely support the upcoming ballot measure that would allow in-person sports betting at tribal casinos. I’m not a gambler myself, but tribal casinos have proven to be good neighbors and huge economic drivers across the Central Valley.”

Unfortunately, the measure was rejected by voters in November. If passed, it would have created more jobs and pumped needed dollars into local economies, including in tribal communities.

Rohnert Park

The city of Rohnert Park, population 44,411, is in Northern California’s wine country. The Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park is expanding its operations. The plan is to increase the casino gaming space by 45% by adding 144,000 square feet to it.

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which own and operate the casino, also plan to add a five-story, 221-room tower.

This resort is one of Sonoma County’s largest private employers. With the expansion, they will undoubtedly be adding more jobs and boosting the local economy

Photo by Shutterstock
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Aleeyah Jadavji

Aleeyah hails from Toronto, Ontario in Canada and has been working predominantly in the poker industry since 2015. From writing articles, to interviewing big winners and live reporting on poker's biggest stages, she's seen it all. Aleeyah loves to cook and create content to showcase her passion for food and travel. She also loves sriracha, and doesn't trust anyone that believes it's not a top tier condiment.

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