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Graton Casino Aims To Attract Large Crowds To Sonoma County

ROHNERT PARK (KPIX 5) -- There's a little bit of Vegas in Sonoma County now.

A Northern California casino making a big bet on expansion is hoping you'll skip Las Vegas and go to Sonoma County to gamble.

On Tuesday, Graton Casino cut the ribbon for the grand opening of its new 200-room hotel and conference center near Rohnert Park.

Graton Casino is making waves and headlines on the strip itself and it's easy to see why.

Greg Sarris with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria said, "What this affords Sonoma County is, first of all, a premier hotel with 200 rooms, fine dining, we have a 10,000-square-foot spa."

But perhaps most the most interesting part of the $175 million expansion is the ballroom which can hold 1,700 people, making it the only venue of that size in the Bay Area north of the Golden Gate.

"So finally, an opportunity for huge conventions and a destination point in the wine country," Sarris said.

It allows Graton Casino to cash in on business that might otherwise leave the state.

That's likely a concerning topic to Nevada, whose gambling revenues have fallen ever since Indian gaming became legal in California in 2000.

Meanwhile, the number of Golden State casinos keeps climbing, sparking debate among the state's elected officials.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein said, "I mean how much gambling do we need to have in California? We have 65 of these, at least, now throughout the state. It is a huge industry."

California gaming revenues are up 4 percent -- a number that Graton Casino's new expansion will likely add to in the coming years.

Graton Casino is now the fourth-largest hotel in Sonoma County.

The Sonoma Mission Inn is the largest.

If you're thinking about booking a night at Graton Casino, rates start at $300 a night.






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