Smaller Now, Bigger Later: Is Sonoma County in
for a rude awakening? Although the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) approved a
casino project smaller than the 750,000 square foot project originally planned by Graton Rancheria, that doesn't mean that
it won't get bigger later. In fact, expansion of the existing project is discussed in county documents. The question is, just
how big will it get?
answer? As big as they want.
Most people don't know that when it comes to Indian projects on Indian trust land, after five years, the tribes can
do whatever they want with their land. That means that the NIGC's "approval" of a smaller project was only to lull
you into a false sense of security. Five years from now, Graton Rancheria can expand the casino,
That's what happened in the case of
the San Manuel Band in Highlands, CA, which took some land into trust beside their existing land. The stated purpose,
as approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) was for soccer fields that the whole community could use. And use them they
did, until five years later when the tribe tore up the fields and built its humungous casino parking structure instead. You
can see the results in the picutres below. And the BIA did not, indeed, could not, say boo about it.
So if you're thinking that it won't be too bad,
it's not that big, remember that it's still the biggest commercial project in the area, and that in five years, the odds
are good that it will mushroom to a size that will rival the biggest tribal casinos in the country.