Elk Grove reaps rewards from Sky River Casino’s first anniversary


Marking its one-year milestone, Sky River Casino is celebrating its noteworthy achievements. What started with the announcement “We’re open” on August 15, 2022, has transformed into a year of growth and success, with the latest proclamation being “We’re expanding.”

The influence of the casino on Elk Grove and the surrounding Sacramento County has translated into a significant economic upswing. Elk Grove’s City Manager, Jason Behrmann, noted the positive impact on the city’s visibility and reputation: “Elk Grove is more on the map and people are talking about things happening in Elk Grove.”

Over the course of the past year, Behrmann highlighted the casino’s introduction of a missing piece to the city’s offerings: entertainment. The addition of the casino has addressed the longstanding criticism of Elk Grove’s limited recreational options, infusing the city with fresh energy.

Distinctive as the sole tribal casino in Sacramento County, Sky River Casino has swiftly become one of Elk Grove’s top five employers, employing over 1,600 individuals. Behrmann underlined the potential for further employment growth as expansion phases unfold, envisioning a workforce that benefits the local community.

With ambitious plans underway, Sky River’s extension promises an even greater economic boost. Recently revealed by casino leadership, construction will soon commence on-site for a new 300-room hotel, spa, pool, parking garage, and event space. Behrmann sees this expansion as a catalyst that will potentially attract additional businesses to the vicinity, generating a dynamic economic environment.

Beyond the fiscal gains, Behrmann emphasized how the casino retains local revenue, drawing visitors even from the Bay Area. He illuminated the hidden cycle of dollars, wherein funds lost at the casino are reinvested into Elk Grove’s development.

Jesus Tarango, Chairman of Wilton Rancheria, stated their commitment to enriching the local community: “We are committed to giving over $130 million here in our community. I’m pretty sure we are probably going to exceed that.” This financial commitment spans the next two decades, channeled towards bolstering public safety infrastructure, road maintenance, and supporting the construction of a new Cosumnes Fire station scheduled to open nearby next year.

Tarango articulated a belief in inclusivity, aiming to extend the casino’s benefits beyond gamblers: “I believe everybody that’s in our community deserves to benefit from Sky River, not just those who come in and gamble.” In addition to the economic perks, Tarango emphasized the transformational journey for the Wilton Rancheria tribe itself. Having faced a 50-year lapse in federal recognition, Tarango views the ongoing success of the casino as a pathway to self-sufficiency and reconnection with their heritage.

“Our success has exceeded our expectations and I think that’s because of the community that we are in. They support us in coming and bringing their hard-earned money to come spend it here,” Tarango reflected, acknowledging the symbiotic relationship between the tribe and the community it serves.


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