Sonoma County is facing an unprecedented situation: the prospect of five to six tribal casinos stretching along the 101 corridor, all of them in or adjacent to Sonoma County cities. The people to blame for this? Governor Jerry Brown and the County of Sonoma.
During a 2011 meeting between Graton casino opposition and the governor’s right-hand man, Jacob Appelsmith, Mr. Appelsmith said that the governor knew giving Graton Rancheria a gambling Compact would “open the floodgates” for more urban casinos in California. This is proving to be true; the governor recently gave a Compact to another Station Casinos project in Madera. Sonoma County is looking at its first two additional casinos, one outside of Petaluma and one in Cloverdale.
The County of Sonoma’s failure to adopt a coherent policy on tribal casinos early on has resulted in a piecemeal approach to tribal casino issues. They fight some and fully cooperate with others.
“We warned the County ten years ago about the prospect of multiple tribal casinos, and told them the keystone was the Graton casino. We asked them to stop the Graton casino and develop a policy to address tribal casino projects as they appeared. We gave them the names of the tribes and the likely locations of future casinos, including the potential for Dry Creek to locate a second casino south of the Graton Casino, “ said Chip Worthington of Stop Graton Casino,
“They didn’t listen, and now the County is in real jeopardy.” The City of Petaluma fears a new Dry Creek casino south of town. The Graton casino is expected to reduce revenue at Dry Creek’s current casino, River Rock. The southern Sonoma County location would be very advantageous for Dry Creek Rancheria.
“Unless we take swift action, Sonoma County will be the Gambling Mecca of Northern California,” said Mr. Worthington. “The key is still stopping the Graton Rancheria casino, asserting state rights and stopping the federal land grabs that allow tribal casinos to bypass all local control. That’s where our lawsuit comes in”
“Our resources are being stretched too thin. Tribal casinos create local growth with no local control. It’s time to put an end to it once and for all.”
Additional Information: If you would like a graphic of the proposed Sonoma County casino sites, please call Marilee Montgomery at 707-477-2589 or email [email protected]
Since August 2003, a grassroots coalition of community leaders has been fighting to Stop Graton Casino. The 420,000 square-foot Graton Casino development will destroy Sonoma County’s unique way of life. This August, a Superior Court judge has the power to declare the Graton Casino compact with the state unconstitutional.
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