Elk Grove casino build delayed

The Wilton Rancheria tribe has postponed the opening of their proposed $500 million casino from 2020 to 2021. The Elk Grove Citizen reported that Tribal Chairman Raymond Hitchcock said, “Last year, 2019, we had to do some redesign on a few areas that set us back, and now we’re getting back on track.”

He also said that they hope to break ground this spring, and it will take about 18 months to complete. “So, if you do the math, that’s late 2021 for opening the project,” he added.

Casino watchdog group Stand Up for California! has an appeal ongoing that could still potentially derail the undertaking. They are questioning a federal judge’s ruling regarding the U.S. Department of the Interior allowing the land to be placed into a federal trust for the tribe.

“The district court overlooked serious flaws in the [Bureau of Indian Affairs’] public process and hasty environmental analysis, as well as a lack of proper legal authority exercised by an acting official in the waning days of the last administration,” the Citizen quoted Stand Up Director Cheryl Schmit. “This case is not closed.”

The Citizen also quoted Hitchcock saying, “The lawsuit has no bearing upon our ability to move forward with our project. We’re just moving forward, regardless of the white noise that is the appeal from Stand Up.

“Everything we’ve done has been done correctly. All of the arguments made by Stand Up are baseless and conjecture. We’re a tribe, we’re from this area [and this] territory. We got restored lands properly, we got restored properly [as a tribe, and] the decision that was made to put the land into trust was done correctly. They’re just looking for reasons to conflict.

“It’s just a bigger drain on the tribe’s resources to pay for fighting frivolous litigation, as opposed to providing services to our membership.

“The project is imminent. It’s going to happen. The light is at the end of the tunnel to get started with this project. The designs are 95 to 99 percent done. Two areas we’re just working on right now are small stuff. But the next project [is to] start digging in the ground and getting it going.”