In California, the federally-recognized Wilton Rancheria tribe has reached a tentative agreement with local officials to build a $400 million casino resort on 35.9 acres of land in central Sacramento County.

According to a report from The Sacramento Bee newspaper, the city council of Elk Grove will now vote on the plan, which would see the Wilton Rancheria construct a twelve-story hotel on the outskirts of the small city alongside a spa, a 30,000 sq ft events space, a fitness center and a casino offering some 2,000 slots in addition to 84 gaming tables.

In return, the newspaper reported that the deal would see Elk Grove receive at least $132 million over the next 20 years to offset any impacts of the planned 302-room development due to be built next to a disused outlet mall along a portion of California State Route 99.

The Sacramento Bee reported that the plan from the Wilton Rancheria would require the demolition of four buildings erected as part of the shopping mall project, which was constructed during the previous economic downturn, while the site would additionally be reconfigured to feature a 14-screen cinema along with restaurants and bars.

In a statement, the city council for Elk Grove declared that the tribe’s cumulative payment “far exceeds” what it would “expect to receive from tax revenues associated with the mall” while the proposed deal isn’t intended to endorse or “facilitate the construction of the casino” but rather to pay for the impacts of the development “in the event that it is ultimately approved by the United States government and state of California”.

Raymond Hitchcock, Tribal Chairman for the Wilton Rancheria, explained that it could still be more than five years before ground is broken on his tribe’s new casino resort while proclaiming that the finished development would offer the Sacramento region “a first-class luxury resort with hotels, pool and spas, shows and high-end restaurants”. He stated that the new enterprise, which is to be constructed in partnership with Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corporation, would “complement the outlet mall and, hopefully, spawn that development and get its retail portion moving quicker”.

However, the plan has attracted a lot of opposition as the Wilton Rancheria casino would most likely serve as a major regional competitor to one of northern California’s most lucrative tribal gambling establishments, the United Auburn Indian Community’s Thunder Valley Casino Resort, which is located some 41 miles away near the city of Lincoln. It would moreover sit only 37 miles from the Red Hawk Casino outside of the town of Shingle Springs while the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort would be about 46 miles away in Amador County.

As if the local casino market wasn’t crowded enough, the Wilton Rancheria casino is furthermore due to be located around 63 miles from the Cache Creek Casino Resort in Yolo County while July saw the Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe Of Enterprise Rancheria suspend construction on its planned $186 million Fire Mountain Resort And Casino some 52 miles away near Yuba City.

“This is clearly a competitive market and tribes in this region will be keeping a close eye on this development,” Doug Elmets, a local communications consultant who represents the Thunder Valley Casino Resort and the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort, told The Sacramento Bee.

The newspaper reported that the proposed deal would see the Wilton Rancheria commit to paying more than $56 million to Elk Grove’s general fund during the agreement’s 20-year tenure alongside over $36 million for police and code enforcement services. The tribe would also be required to hand over in excess of $26 million for road improvements and maintenance with an additional $8 million set aside for the Elk Grove Unified School District while making monetary commitments to local non-profit community groups and programs.

“The tribe is committed to this community and we’re committed to supporting our local school district and supporting the city by paying our fair share,” Hitchcock told the newspaper. “This is what we intend to do for Elk Grove. This is our home as well.”

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