IONE (CBS13) — A new casino in the Gold Country hopes to bring in more opportunity for an area that has watched nearby places like Sutter Creek thrive.
When it comes to Northern California attractions, Ione isn't usually on many people's short list. The prison is here and there are a few small businesses. But those businesses are now banking on Harrah's Northern California to bring tourism dollars to town.
In the past, some might have called Ione a one-horse town. But businesses here hope to ride on the success of the new Harrah's casino.
"The more people coming through town, the better it's going to make it," said Don Hodge, owner of Mane Street Tack.
Hodge said too many people are trotting to other tourist destinations.
"Sutter Creek has all these people coming. It would be nice to see Ione get that," said Hodge.
The nearby Pizza Guys shop agrees. They are hoping the new Harrah's Northern California casino will give tourists a taste of what Ione has to offer.
"A lot of people don't even know this town exists so I am happy about it," says Tim Flores.
Harrah's is hiring 500 employees, 400 of which will be full time with benefits. The casino is betting on the scenic location to draw crowds to their location in the foothills on the reservation land of the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indian Tribe.
"We have a lot of guests who frequent from the Bay Area, sac, Lake Tahoe and Reno and we wanted to capitalize on that mid-week," said JC Rieger, SVP of Harrah's Northern California,
Guests including VIP Joanne Martin lined up early to get the first glimpse at the new Casino. Martin has visited many of Harrah's locations nationwide.
"You get points. Once they get a hotel built. You get free rooms then food and other offers," said Martin.
They all wanted the chance to win big at the more than 950 new slot machines and 20 new table games in the 71,000 square foot venue. Hodge said he'll try his luck later on in the week.
"I like to gamble a little bit. Yeah, and I like to eat," Hodge said.
The restaurant, Louie Oliver, will be open with a full-service menu starting April 30th at 11 AM.
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