The Wilton Rancheria Tribe is moving forward with plans to expand its Elk Grove-based Sky River Casino, according to Boyd Gaming. Sky River Casino is managed by Boyd Gaming, and it was launched in 2022. The establishment was the first casino to open in Sacramento County, California. Currently, Sky River Casino boasts 100,000 square feet of space dedicated to 2,000+ slot machines and 80 table games that give patrons the opportunity to play blackjack, Pai Gow, and baccarat, among other games.
As announced in October by the CEO of Boyd Gaming, Keith Smith, the casino has seen great success during its first year of operation. The company’s quarterly report showed that $17 million of Boyd Gaming’s Managed and Other Businesses earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and restructuring (EBITDAR) came from Sky River Casino. Thanks to these earnings, the Wilton Rancheria Tribe was successful in paying off the loan it had gotten from Boyd Gaming in order to kickstart and finish the casino’s construction.
The upcoming expansion will not be funded by loans from Boyd Gaming, and it will introduce a hotel, restaurants that will add to the casino’s current roster of dining venues, and a convention center. In preparation for the expansion, the Wilton Rancheria Tribe announced a purchase of 20 acres of land in October. Just like the casino, the new hotel will be under Boyd Gaming management.
The Wilton Rancheria Tribe Had to Fight for the Right to Build the Casino
Although Sky River Casino has been a resounding success for Boyd Gaming and the Wilton Rancheria Tribe, the Tribe did face serious hurdles before the casino’s opening. The project saw a legal battle between the Wilton Rancheria Tribe and special interest group Stand Up for California, where the latter aimed for the reversal of the US Department’s decision to put the Tribe’s land into trust. Stand Up’s ultimate goal was to prevent the Elk Grove project from opening. However, this issue was resolved once the US Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Wilton Rancheria Tribe. This allowed the Tribe to successfully finish the construction of Sky River Casino and launch the establishment in 2022.
The Wilton Rancheria Tribe is among the over 70 Tribes that have signed a Tribal-State Gaming Compact with the state of California. Such compacts are mandatory for tribal communities to sign, as they are what enable them to legally offer Class III games within the state of California. Games that fall under the Class III designation include slot machines, table games, and card games. All non-tribal-owned gambling operations in California are overseen by the California Gambling Control Commission (CGCC), which is in charge of regulating gambling activities and also serves as the entity that has the authority to license casinos and other gambling establishments.