By Mark Anderson Staff Writer, Sacramento Business Journal
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the tribal gaming compact for a $500 million casino in Elk Grove.
The governor’s signature Tuesday is another step toward development of a casino, hotel and events center in part of a long-dormant mall on the south end of Elk Grove. The casino is seen as a major attraction and catalyst to developing the rest of The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, which is owned by Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp. (NYSE: HHC).
The compact between the Wilton Rancheria and the state of California allows the tribe to operate up to 2,500 electronic gaming devices, plus card tables.
A compact sets the rules and guidelines for operations and management of a casino, and it is required before the tribe can offer gaming.
The Wilton tribe plans to build a casino on 36 acres inside the mall site, just off Highway 99.
The tribe and its financing partner Boyd Gaming Corp. (NYSE: BYD) bought the land for the casino in early February. A few weeks later, the federal government took the land into trust for the tribe.
Brown first approved the compact on July 19, but then a bill had to be introduced and approved by the California Legislature. Assemblymember Jim Cooper of Elk Grove wrote Assembly Bill 1606 to approve the compact, and it passed both houses of the Legislature unanimously.
Tribal Chairman Raymond “Chuckie” Hitchcock said that with timely approvals the tribe could break ground next summer and complete construction in 18 to 24 months.
The proposed Elk Grove casino would include 110,000 square feet of gaming floor, multiple restaurants, a spa, 302-room hotel tower and the region’s largest convention center outside of downtown Sacramento.
In September, Wilton Rancheria agreed to a deal with the city, under which it would pay Elk Grove $132 million over 20 years as mitigation for the casino’s impacts once it's open.
The Wilton Rancheria has been working on the casino project for several years. The tribe held its first public hearing in January 2016 in Galt, when it was considering that city as a location, and Elk Grove was an alternate site.
The tribe has faced several legal challenges over the casino, some of which have been dismissed administratively. Anti-gambling group Stand Up California has vowed to contest the dismissal in court. Representatives from Stand Up were not available for comment at press time.