Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D), second from left, is seen with Chairman Raymond C. Hitchcock of the Wilton Rancheria and other tribal citizens. Photo: Wilton Rancheria

Wilton Rancheria secures legislative approval of Class III gaming agreement

The Wilton Rancheria is celebrating after the California Legislature gave final approval to the tribe's Class III gaming compact.

The State Assembly approved Assembly Bill 1606, which ratifies the compact, by a unanimous vote on Thursday. The bill also won unanimous approval in the Senate last month.

“We are extremely pleased and humbled by the strong support the tribe has received from the community, the Legislature and the Governor,” Chairman Raymond C. Hitchcock said in a press release. “It’s a very good day for the 750 members of Wilton Rancheria, the community of Elk Grove and the greater Sacramento region. Now it’s time to get on with building this project, which will create thousands of jobs and invest of hundreds of millions of dollars to improve city and country services.”

An exact date for the start of construction has not yet been announced. But Boyd Gaming Corporation, the tribe's partner, anticipates a groundbreaking in mid-2018, with an opening 18 to 24 months later.

"We congratulate the Wilton Rancheria for reaching this critical milestone in the tribe's progress toward self-sufficiency," Keith Smith, the firm's president and chief executive officer of Boyd Gaming, said in a press release. "We look forward to working with them in the years ahead as we help make their vision of a world-class gaming resort a reality."

The agreement can now be sent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for review. If the federal agency approves, the tribe will be able to offer Class III games like slot machines at at the casino in the city of Elk Grove.

On January 19, the last full day of the Obama administration, the BIA approved the land-into-trust application for the 36-acre gaming site. The Trump administration has since confirmed that the land is in trust, although opponents are seeking to reverse the decision.

The tribe was restored to federal recognition in 2009 after being illegally terminated in the 1950s.

Read More on the Story:
Elk Grove tribal casino gets OK from state Legislature (The Sacramento Bee August 31, 2017)
California Legislature approves compact for $500 million Elk Grove casino (The Sacramento Business Journal August 31, 2017)
Assembly approves state compact for Elk Grove casino (The Elk Grove Citizen September 1, 2017)
New casino for Central Valley moves closer (The Central Valley Business Times September 1, 2017)

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