Feds to rule on Elk Grove casino soon?

Feds to rule on Elk Grove casino soon?


The federal government could make a decision on the Wilton Rancheria casino project by the middle of January. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has posted notice of the environmental impact statement for the project to be located in Elk Grove. After 30 days have passed, the government can rule on the report. A favorable ruling would pave the way for the land to be placed into a trust for the Wilton Rancheria Tribe.  Putting the land into a trust is the next stop in the process for the tribe to build a casino in Elk Grove near the unfinished Elk Grove shopping mall.


Elk Grove residents have dealt with the casino project for much of 2o16. In January a meeting was held in Galt to look at the various locations, which included Galt, Wilton and Elk Grove. At the time it was thought that Galt was the likely location for the casino. Weeks after that meeting, there were rumors that Elk Grove became the preferred location. On June 9 the Wilton Rancheria Tribe issued a statement that they chose a 36 acre site near the Elk Grove Shopping Mall.  On July 6th, the tribe held a community meeting at the Falls Events Center to present their proposal and answer questions from the community.


In late September the Elk Grove City council approved a memorandum of understanding with the tribe that would reimburse the city for lost revenue and increased services necessary due to the casino. That meeting came before a packed city council chambers, most of which supported the casino. On October 12, the Elk Grove City Council voted to approve a change to the development agreement with the shopping mall owner Howard Hughes Corporation. That decision took the 36 acres out of the agreement to make it easier for the land to be placed into a trust by the federal government. The decision by the council was not popular with some Elk Grove residents who were told that the city could not stop the casino from coming to Elk Grove. A group of petition gatherers were seen at many local retail locations gathering signatures to place the council decision on a ballot for a special election. Some residents claimed they were harassed and others said they misled by the petition gatherers. Other residents were happy that they would have the chance to vote on the issue. Just who was behind the petition was unclear until recently when it was determined that the petition was backed by a company linked to Sacramento card rooms.


It is unclear how the decision by the BIA will affect the possible future vote on the development agreement that was approved by the Elk Grove city council. That vote would be on the decision by the city council to approve the change to the development agreement. It would not be a vote on the casino itself.

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