The Khoi Indian tribe from California on Wednesday unveiled a plan to erect a $600 million casino resort on a 68-acre land at East Shiloh Rd. and Old Redwood Highway. The Khoi, a federally recognized Native American tribe living in Sonoma County, will have the largest casino in Northern California.
The casino construction and opening are estimated to take four years only, according to a tribe official. The 90-member Pomo tribe is awaiting necessary documentation approvals from the federal government before conducting a groundbreaking ceremony on the 68-acreage land located about half a mile from Shiloh Ranch Regional Park.
Giving Back to the Community
Most of the tribe’s members live in Sonoma but do not have land on their own. The tribe official, however, confirmed that it bought the land from private owners, which cost $12.3 million. Local officials at Sonoma did not welcome the casino idea but later agreed to let the tribe manage its property, as the federal government will see it fit.
The tribe administrators have gained fame overnight. They said they are in consultative talks with the local elected members and community members, looking forward to steering a project representing everyone’s interests. The project’s economic empowerment of the resort seeks to deliver profits back to the casino members. Most members who now live in North Bay struggle to make ends meet. The tribe aims to make its member self-reliant and economically strong.
While speaking in an interview, Darin Beltran, the tribe’s chairperson, said,
“This day is a long time coming…our main objective is to become economically independent.”
Upon completion, the tribe is looking forward to hosting the third-largest Las Vegas-style casino in Sonoma County, the Shiloh Resort and Casino. Its newest rival, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria open in 2013. This casino prides itself on a 200-room area and has the largest gaming floor in the Bay Area.
The new casino by the Khoi tribe will have 2500 slots and added gaming machines, a 200-capacity hotel, food service areas, 6 restaurants, a spa, and a meeting conference center. The $600 million complexes will sit on a vast 1.2 million sqft.
Khoi tribe, while announcing on Wednesday, said the project now rests with the local government and federal officials.
Dino Beltran, the vice-chairperson of the tribe, said he is looking forward to receiving concerns and suggestions necessary from the community. He said, “We’re going to be very open-eared to what people have to say…we’ll have the community outreach and deal with what folks’ concerns are.”
Wednesday’s announcement and filing of documents with the U.S. Department of interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs mark the start of the lengthy approval process. Sam Singer, an official in the tribe, said that the approval process and construction process would take up to four years. He confirmed that the approval process should take two years and construction work take another two years.
“Sonoma County Does Not Need another Casino”
The Wednesday announcement brought mixed reactions to the casinos supported and those against the project. California’s governor, a key stakeholder in the casino opening, Gov. Gavin Newsom, has not yet responded. The estate senator, Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said he was not aware of the ongoing plan until the announcement. The senator said the project was “deeply concerning” due to the large size, though.
“Sonoma County doesn’t need another casino, and I oppose any new gaming outlets,” said Mike. He added, “Sonoma County doesn’t need another casino, and I oppose any new gaming outlets.”
The U.S. representative Jared Huffman said he was not confident with the project and could not work.
“It is one thing to say you have acquired a piece of property and roll out drawings and blueprints…actually getting that land taken into trust and getting the contracts and approvals to start gaming is a whole different story. It’s just hard to do that if everyone around you opposes it.”