Opinion - Why I Support the Wilton Rancheria Casino

By Amber Enderton | February 19, 2017 |

In the summer of ‘99, when I was 13, my mom and I moved from San Francisco to Elk Grove. The newly built subdivision was close to Joseph Kerr and Elk Grove High, as well as Elk Grove Park and Jennie McConnell Park. When we moved in, we were also told that there would soon be a new mall opening up nearby. In San Francisco, we lived in relatively close proximity to a big mall, so the mall was welcome news and something to look forward to. Fast forward 18 years, and we’re still waiting for that darn mall.

Since we moved up here, e-commerce has really taken off. You can order groceries, games, hair products, clothing, and just about whatever you want straight to your door. I’ve never been a big shopper, and I hated going shopping with my mom. I would always retreat to the KB Toys at the first opportunity to check out the video games. But where is our mall in Elk Grove? While most of neighbors who had bought their houses new with the promise of a nearby shopping mall have moved, some of us remain; and I would still certainly like to see that mall built.

However, I’m not 13 anymore. I’m in my early 30’s now, and I am far more capable of thinking past my own petty desires than when I was in my early teens. Walmart, notorious for their anti-union efforts and low salary, is one of Elk Grove’s largest employers. A new mall would provide hundreds of jobs, as well as bringing new income into the city; breaking Walmart’s stranglehold. However, an even greater draw that will provide for even more jobs is the Wilton Rancheria casino and resort. It will bring an estimated 1,700 to 2,000 news jobs to our city, jobs that Mayor Steve Ly has vowed to fight to make sure are union jobs. This is good news, the entertainment and business it will draw to our city will be huge. While the money made in the casino and resort will go to the tribe, the money made in surrounding businesses, including the mall, will stay in Elk Grove.

The Wilton Rancheria Tribe is a part of this community, too. Slaughtered in mass in the 1800’s before being removed from their lands and forced to attend schools that stripped away their culture, then later having their tribal status stripped away in the 1940’s by the US government; they’ve been through a lot. In 2009, the federal government gave them their tribal status back, and now begins the long, slow process of healing. This is their land, stolen by force by our settlers over a hundred years ago. Their blood was spilled so that we could squat here today. Our bloody crimes must never be forgotten; the debt we owe them is tremendous. Their tribe currently suffers from poverty, high suicide rates, and a lack of a community hospital. This casino would be a boon to their community, it would bring in profits to sustain them and raise them out of poverty. It would allow them to build hospitals, and pay for mental health services to lower the number of suicides. It is our moral duty to allow them to build this casino on this land, on their land.

We stand at a turning point in our city. While we became a city in 2000, we’ve still retained a small town mindset. Now we have a chance for some real development, development that will boost our city’s economy and pave the way for a vibrant new night life. If you check the Twitter accounts of our young adult population, they can’t wait to get of this city. It’s boring, there is nothing to do. The casino and resort will change that. It will bring much needed entertainment to our city. It will bring much needed jobs and businesses to the city, as well as the completion of that long promised mall. Most importantly of all, it will allow the Wilton Rancheria Tribe to gain some much needed financial stability.

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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Regarding your comment about the Wilton Rancheria casino,"...It will bring an estimated 1,700 to 2,000 news jobs to our city, jobs that Mayor Steve Ly has vowed to fight to make sure are union jobs".

With all due respect, I would not 'bet the house' on Steve Ly accomplishing anything with the casino. The City already approved its MOU with the tribe, so what leverage does he or the City have anymore? In briefly researching this subject, I believe there is one Indian casino in the entire country that is unionized. Heck, Boeing workers shot down a union last week at their South Carolina assembly plant!

Now I do know Mr. Ly recently commented that he would be first in line at the buffet, so it is quite possible that he could help unionize their restaurant workers by offering to stand at the back of the line, and to sweeten the pot, maybe the tribe could throw him an extra piece of fried chicken?

Yes, let's just look forward to the jobs period. Past experience has shown that if you 'hope' too far out beyond the tip of your nose in this town, you will get it slammed in a door.

Unknown said...

As you said you left SF to come to small town Elk Grove. You then complain because of the supposed lack of jobs and the fact we have dont have a mall. I might assume by those complaints that you might be happier back in the city? Elk Grove doesnt have a problem with jobs or a real need for a mall, although many would like to see the city and the developer honor its promise without trying to force a casino on us.

Wilton Racheria belongs either in Wilton where they originally intended to build or somewhere the community wants a casino. Please stop with the abused tribe rhetoric, it has no place in this discussion. Nobody in our city is responsible for anything that occured in 1800 and a casino is certainly not a solution for anything that might be presumed to be owed to the tribe.

Unknown said...

That's why this town will never grow. Small town mentality. It's a city now and we need a freeking mall. Not have to drive to Arden or Roseville for some real shopping. This Casino will get people to the new planned outlet mall. Let's have some fun in our backyard and not have to spend our money in other city's economy. If you don't like the casino then don't go there. I'm all for it. Hell yeahh. Can't wait for grand opening!

Unknown said...

I appreciate Amber's comments. Thank you for showing why the casino is valuable to you and most of us in Elk Grove.

Unknown said...


Your comments prove my point. Your interested in a mall not a casino. The city council and the tribe and a host of other hidden interested parties want to force the casino on the city to deliver what was already promised to us, the mall.

I on the other hand would prefer slower more beneficial growth to the revised casino/mall that replaced, the revised "outlet mall" that replaced the "outside mall", that replaced the "indoor mall" that was originally sold to the city and its residents.

Its been one step down with each revision. Maybe you don't care, I do, as each of these revisions devalues Elk Grove and its residents.

Unknown said...

The mall will be better with higher-quality stores with the casino. Sure, we can get the mall built and it'll all be low-rent choices without the casino.

Lei said...

The casino would change the identity of Elk Grove forever - a gambling town is not someplace where a good family would like to raise the kids. Elk Grove has been doing fine without the casino. Can you imagine what kind of families the casino would draw to the town?

Amber Enderton said...

The status of the tribe couldn't be more relevant to this discussion. Once that land is given over to the tribe, it becomes the sovereign territory of the tribe. Our state and local governments will have little say in an official capacity regarding what happens on tribal land. Your opinions and my own become irrelevant at that point, at least as far as the law is concerned.

Saying all that, I'd hope you could show a little sympathy for what the tribe has been through. Their people slaughtered, forced to abandon their culture, then having their status as the aboriginal people of this land stripped from them for 80 years. This isn't just some act that happened in the 1800's; we're still here, on their land, denying them financial independence. Since we can't undo 200 years of oppression and genocide, we can at least lend them our support as they construct a casino in an attempt to make their tribe financially sustainable. This is literally the very least we can do for them.

As it so happens, it's not a bad deal for us either. It provides us with more economic opportunities. It'll provide a much needed boost to our local economy. See those parks that have been allowed to wither since the 2008 recession? Notice how Walmart is one of our largest private employers? Have you listened to all the young people who can't wait to leave Elk Grove because there is nothing here for them?

Now, this casino certainly isn't a panacea that will solve all our problems, but it is a blessing to our community that the tribe has chosen this area for their casino. The surge of growth that will stem from the casino being built will provide us with the best opportunity to face the challenges that affect our city. Have you ever heard the saying Don't look a gift horse in the mouth? That applies here. This could be our chance to spring back from the decline of the 2008 recession. Let's not waste this opportunity

Neo Elk Grove said...

I do not quibble with Native Americans rights to operate gaming facilities. I do have a problem with the location of this casino. It should not be located so close to a heavily populated area such as Elk Grove and south Sacramento. You are only asking for trouble in this location. I an not a nimby either - I don't think a casino of this size is appropriate in any of the high density areas of Sacramento County. It is OK to build it, just not so close to urban areas. Let's not forget Sacramento is a hub for human trafficking - this complex is gonna be a prime area for this activity. It will attract pimps like bugs to a light.

Lei said...

Absolutely Neo! Any argument on perspectives of casino jobs is short sighted! We would not move to Elk Grove 15 years ago if we knew there will be a casino in town.

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