Just six months after opening the doors of its Sky River Casino in Elk Grove, the Wilton Rancheria is already considering an expansion, which could include a hotel, convention center and more restaurants.
In a statement sent to the Herald recently, Wilton Rancheria Tribal Chair Jesus Tarango referred to his Miwok and Nisenan tribe’s continued interest in adding other amenities next to its $500 million casino, near Highway 99 and Kammerer Road.
“We have never wavered in our vision to create a complete entertainment resort,” he wrote. “In the short time we’ve been open, we are already moving on with our plans. And that speaks volumes about our partner (Boyd Gaming Corp.), but also tribal leadership past and present.
“We will continue to invest to enhance the Sky River experience, and that means evaluating all expansion opportunities.”
David Strow, vice president of corporate communications for the Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming, told the Herald on Feb. 28 that there are a variety of options for the tribe when it comes to expanding Sky River.
“Does that include a hotel, does it include meeting and convention space, does it include an expansion of the casino, does it add new restaurants?” he asked. “Those are things we need to discuss with the tribe to see what makes sense. You know, how can we make Sky River even more attractive throughout the region?”
Strow noted that the Wilton Rancheria reached a position to possibly expand due to the early success of its 100,000-square-foot casino, which features 2,000 slot machines, 80 table games and 12 restaurants and bars.
“Both Boyd and the tribe could not be happier with how Sky River has come out of the gate,” he said. “I mean, it’s doing absolutely fantastic. I think it’s actually exceeding our expectations for what we expected from the property.”
Strow mentioned that Boyd Gaming receives a percentage of Sky River’s earnings as a fee for its management of the casino, which is owned by the Wilton Rancheria.
“We reported fourth-quarter earnings a few weeks ago, and we stated on that call that we received a $21 million management fee from the Wilton (Rancheria) tribe in the fourth quarter from Sky River,” Strow said. “We anticipate that we will receive $50 million in 2023 as a management fee for the property.
“So the $50 million is just our fee that we expect to receive. That is a minority of the amount that the tribe will expect to receive, but I can’t disclose what the tribe is going to make. I can only disclose what we expect we’re going to receive.”
Strow added that the early success of the casino can be credited to its “ideal” location off Highway 99, south of Sacramento, and the quality of the casino, which he referred to as offering a “first-in-class entertainment experience.”
With a sufficient and continuous flow of funds from its casino and additional land to build upon next to the casino, the Wilton Rancheria is in a good position to consider its options for an expansion, Strow noted.
“They are the ones that will tell us, at the end of the day, when the time is to expand and what should be added,” he said. “That will be their call. But what I will tell you is that when the tribe is ready to go, we will be ready to get to work for them.”
Strow stressed the importance of Sky River’s success and future expansion for the Wilton Rancheria.
“This is a very important project to the tribe, that allows them to achieve self-sufficiency, where they can fund the needs of the tribal membership from the proceeds from this resort,” he said. “So this is a critically important project to the tribe. And so for us to be able to come out of the box like this, and to have such great results for Sky River, we couldn’t be more pleased that we’ve been able to do that for the tribe, and just deliver great benefits, I think, for the entire Elk Grove community.”
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