As of Tuesday, the Sky River Casino in Elk Grove, Sacramento, California is officially opened to the public. With an original opening date set for September, the Wilton Rancheria tribe's casino opened its doors ahead of schedule, after a late-night Monday grand opening. It has become the first tribal casino in the County.
Boyd Gaming operates the casino on land that is owned by the tribe. Among the casino's features are 2,000 slots and 80 table games spread over the 100,000-square-foot gaming floor. A large, circular bar sits like a roulette wheel in the center of the space. The blown glass chandeliers in the shape of oak leaves and acorns hanging above the casino floor pay homage to the Wilton Rancheria’s tribal lands.
The Wilton Rancheria and Boyd Gaming broke ground on the $500 million project 17 months ago, in March 2021. Casino President Chris Gibase, who comes from Boyd Gaming, explained that they originally planned to have construction done by the end of October, but they were able to finish early. “A lot of it was pre-planning,” Gibase said, as reported by Sacramento Business Journal. “When we broke ground here we had 100% of the plans done.”
They also avoided the supply chain issues that have delayed other construction projects by buying steel, air conditioning units, electronics and other supplies before construction even started, and stored them on the casino property until they needed them.
The casino has 17 restaurants and bars featuring a steak house and tap room with dozens of local beers. “When you walk through it’s a very impressive place, it’s a beautiful place that’s been built,” said Gibase, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.
"There are 17 bars and restaurants here that people are really going to gravitate to. The casino’s really nice — it offers the newest, latest, greatest machines — a variety of Asian-style games. But the restaurants, the bars, is what’s really going to wow people,” Gibase added. "One of the things that this property has been built upon is to be food-facing and beverage-facing. So, when we built this place — we have the newest and latest machines — but beyond that, if you’re a foodie, if you like to eat out, or if you like trying different types of food, this is the place."
About 1,700 people are on the job at Sky River, close to the 2,000 employees the casino planned to hire when construction plans were announced last year. "We’re hiring every day," Gibase commented.
The casino, which took nearly 18 months to be built, rises from Elk Grove's infamous "ghost mall". Jesus Tarango, the chairman of Wilton Rancheria, said: "I think it goes back to the ghost mall, so the residents of Elk Grove remember what this place looked like and so to see what it is now and what it is going to become it truly is a special moment, important to Elk Grove and also my people," she added, as reported by The Sacramento Bee.