Christine Edwards: Graton Rancheria casino foes eating their words

The Graton Resort and Casino in Roehnert Park, California. Photo from Facebook

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria faced major opposition in its quest for a casino. But now that the Graton Resort and Casino is on track to complete a $175 million expansion, writer Christine Edwards wonders what the fuss was all about:
Some members of the community felt this development would create a traffic nightmare — which it did, briefly, upon its grand opening — and others feared the dreaded noise and light pollution would disturb this once peaceful area.

As it turns out, these assumptions were incorrect, according to residents and city officials. Graton Casino — the newest addition to the 13 other Indian gaming facilities within Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties — has had surprisingly little negative impact. Yes, on opening day there were lines of cars gridlocked for hours, as thousands from all over the Bay Area flocked to take in this spectacle. However, after the grand opening madness wore off, traffic on Highway 101 did return to normal, and the new wave of crime that was thought to come as a result of bringing this gambler’s paradise to the city never materialized.

Conversely, the casino has had some positive effects on the community, bringing with it 2,000 new jobs for its casino workers alone, not to mention the construction jobs created, and paying the city $13 million to offset the costs of increased law enforcement, among other public services. The casino has not had much impact at all on surrounding businesses, negative or positive. Indian gaming means big money for California and the 28 other states that operate the nearly 500 Indian gaming venues across the country. After five straight years of growth, the Indian gaming industry in the United States has reached a record high. According to the National Indian Gaming Industry’s 2016 Annual Report, gaming revenue generated $28 billion last year, and California controls about 25 percent of that revenue.

Get the Story:
Christine Edwards: Graton casino expansion; A safe bet for local community (The Sonoma State Star 5/9)

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