Sacramento Business Journal
By Mark Anderson - Staff Writer
The National Indian Gaming Commission has approved a management contract for a $500 million Las Vegas-style casino planned in Elk Grove.
The commission approved the Elk Grove-based Wilton Rancheria tribe's agreement to have BGM Co. Inc. manage the casino. BGM is a subsidiary of Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp.
Wilton Rancheria has been working with Boyd (NYSE: BYD) for four years to develop a casino, hotel and entertainment complex on 36 acres just off Highway 99 at the site of a long-dormant outlet mall.
This decision means the commission reviewed the management agreement and found the terms and conditions to be fair to the tribe, said Wilton Rancheria Chairman Raymond Hitchcock in an interview.
“It was a long process. I thought it was going to be a 100-yard hurdle, but it seems more like a marathon,” he said.
The tribe has been working toward the casino approvals since 2012.
“We are humbled and grateful to receive this approval,” Hitchcock said.
The management contract is for a standard seven-year maximum term, after which the tribe can opt to manage the casino itself.
Boyd Gaming operates 29 casinos in several states, including the Ameristar and Belterra brands. The Elk Grove casino will reflect local tribal ownership, Hitchcock said.
The tribe will announce its casino name and release new design drawings in the coming months, Hitchcock said. He anticipates the casino will open at the end of 2020.
Dallas-based Howard Hughes Corp. owns the rest of the mall site. It plans to develop a shopping center just south of the casino site, called The Outlet Collection at Elk Grove, when it has enough leases to begin. Howard Hughes (NYSE: HHC) representatives have said in the past that the casino project will act as a catalyst to build retail interest in leasing space in The Outlet Collection.
Jonodev Osceola Chaudhuri, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, and a member of the Muscogee Nation of Creek Indians, signed the approval on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. The commission is an independent federal regulatory agency within the Interior Department.
The Elk Grove casino will be the closest casino resort to Sacramento. It will have 2,000 slot machines and 84 gaming tables. Its resort will include multiple restaurants, a spa, a 302-room hotel tower and the region’s largest convention center outside of downtown Sacramento.
The Wilton Rancheria previously had the federal environmental impact statement for the casino approved in 2016. The tribe put its 36 acres of land into federal trust and signed a compact with the state to operate its casino last year.
The next hurdle before Wilton Rancheria can begin construction will be to arrange financing, Hitchcock said.