Sonoma County Casino Has Plan, But Koi Nation Encountering Obstacles

Sonoma County Casino Has Plan, But Koi Nation Encountering Obstacles

The Koi Nation has a plan to build a new casino and resort in Sonoma County in California and it has an agreement with an operator.

It has a contract to build the casino with the Northern California Carpenters Union.

What it doesn’t have is a lot of support.

Citing opposition from local residents and nearby casino owners, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to oppose the Koi Nation’s Shiloh Casino and Resort on a 68-acre tract that would also re-establish the tribe’s land base.

“I respectfully oppose this development, but yet I just want to thank my colleagues for doing this the right way,” said Supervisor board chair James Gore.

County casino concerns over the Shiloh Resort

Koi Nation is one of 109 federally recognized indigenous tribes in California and part of the Southeastern Pomo tribe.

The Koi have fought for years for formal recognition and felt that building a casino would improve the quality of life for its members for generations.

There are already two nearby tribal-owned casinos, the River Rock in Geyserville, about 25 miles north of Santa Rosa, which opened in 2002, and the Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, six miles south of Santa Rosa, which opened in 2013.

Both casino owners have come out in opposition to the Koi Nation’s plan.

Shiloh Casino and Resort would be located in between the two on E. Shiloh Road in Windsor. It would be 13 miles from the Graton and 19 from the River Rock.

Residents complained that the planned site is zoned for farming. Sonoma County, which has just under 500,000 residents, is famous as a wine-making region.

Koi Nation has applied to the US Department of the Interior to turn the land into a trust and have it qualified under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act so a casino can be built there. That approval process can take years.

Koi Nation going forward

Koi Nation unveiled its plan for the Shiloh Casino and Resort last September, saying the facility would have a large gaming space, a 200-room hotel, an entertainment venue, and multiple restaurants. The Koi were hoping to build near their historical lands in California’s Pomo territory.

The tribe entered an arrangement with Global Gaming Solutions, which operates 23 Chickasaw Nation casinos in Oklahoma, to run the $600-million Shiloh Casino and Resort, but would retain the land.

In February, the tribe signed a contract with the Northern California Carpenters Union. The union said the non-smoking casino would be one of the largest union-built developments in Sonoma County.

What happens next for Koi and the California casino?

Ironically, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors also opposed the River Rock and Graton Resort and Casino before they were built, so while important, their approval isn’t a deal-breaker.

There is sure to be more wrangling between the tribes before the Koi can move forward. The Koi are facing tough odds without a large membership and political sway.

Author: Tyler Gutierrez