United States: The Graton Godzilla Invades San Francisco Bay

The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Tribe is on track to soon open its huge casino and resort in Rohnert Park, California, at a site adjacent to U.S. 101 in Sonoma County. The best information available is that this will occur prior to December 31, and the project is expected to dwarf the competition throughout Northern California. As discussed below, the casino will be massive with a wide range of collateral attractions, including dining and live entertainment, and is destined to cash in on the fact that it will be the closest casino to San Francisco.

The Tribe has worked with Station Casinos of Las Vegas for years to finally gain the necessary approvals for the location, and Station, in turn, has been unwavering in its support for the Tribe and the project. Together, these two business partners have overcome many obstacles that included two relocations from the originally proposed site and widespread opposition to any project from various anti-gaming groups.

As the headline above suggests, this project is enormous and will indeed be the Godzilla of the Highway 101 corridor. Moreover, it promises major financial returns for the Tribe, its 1,300 members, and Station Casinos. Station has been the developer and soon will be operating the casino project pursuant to a management contract and is certain to realize substantial profits from the Graton Resort & Casino.

The location and project scope are stunning.

As for location, the site ultimately selected is less than an hour's drive from the Golden Gate Bridge through prosperous Marin County and into idyllic Sonoma County. Pursuant to the Tribe's Compact with the State and local agreements with Rohnert Park and Sonoma County, traffic flow into the casino from the four-lane Highway 101 promises to be seamless.

Project scope is beyond anything anticipated when it was first proposed. For example, the project financing was an $850 million package, which reportedly is the largest financing in the 25-year history of Indian gaming. The casino will open with 3,000 slot machines and 200 table games, and it will employ approximately 2,000 people. The dining services will include multiple outlets, including four finedining venues. The facilities will include multiple lounges and bars and facilities to house concerts and other live entertainment.

The facility is projected to generate some $420 million in annual gaming revenue by its seventh year, from which Sonoma County will receive annual payments of $9 million. While there is no projection as to the number of visitors per year, at least one analyst estimates 2.5 million visits as "on the low end" of what is probably projected by the casino team.

With all of this anticipation, the question quickly becomes where these customers will come from and how existing Northern California casinos will be affected. The obvious answer is that Graton will adversely affect all of its casino neighbors, and the closest already is predicting at least a 30 percent drop in revenue. That facility is operated in the Alexander Valley to the north by the Dry Creek Rancheria, and it has enjoyed a 10-year monopoly in Indian gaming in the North Bay Area. However, its tent-like structure at the top of a steep hill will not compare with the modern facilities being constructed at Graton, nor can its 1,200 slots and 20 table games. Dry Creek Chairman Harvey Hopkins recently predicted the 30 percent loss in revenue, which would be a decrease of some $37 million a year on the basis of the Dry Creek performance for 2010.

Further up Highway 101 are six casinos in Mendocino County and four in Lake County, and their remote locations definitely will suffer at the hands of the new competition. The Colusa Resort in Colusa County also has stated its recognition that Graton will negatively impact its business.

Moreover, many analysts are predicting the Graton casino could even negatively impact two major casinos in the Sacramento area some 100 miles to the east: Thunder Valley near Roseville and Jackson Rancheria Casino in Jackson. A recent financial offering circular for a casino in a rural section of Amador County (which also is home to the Jackson Rancheria) was recently withdrawn, and several gaming experts suggested that the potential financial impact of the Graton project probably contributed to the failure of that financing.

Graton is taking a powerhouse project into an area where there is no comparable competitor. Moreover, the size and sophistication of the project has the already-identified potential to draw customers from as far away as Sacramento and Amador County. The negative financial impacts suffered by various casinos will spill over to employees and business partners, as well as any local governments with local services agreements, since any provisions for revenue sharing likely would have to be modified.

Godzilla has arrived, and the stakes have been raised.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions