Business & Real Estate

State signs new gambling compact with tribe that owns Thunder Valley

People crowd around the Midi Baccarat tables at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Rocklin in 2010.
People crowd around the Midi Baccarat tables at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort in Rocklin in 2010. RBenton@sacbee.com

The tribe that owns Thunder Valley Casino Resort near Lincoln signed a new compact Friday with California that will potentially increase its slot machines and could redirect up to $9 million from the state to Placer County for infrastructure projects.

It would also require the tribe to pay about $25 million less per year to the state’s general fund, but greatly increase its contributions to a trust fund that benefits tribes without casinos, according to a tribal spokesman.

“The tribe and the state negotiated a new long-term gaming compact that helps secure the future of the tribe while also benefiting the state and the local economy of Placer County,” said Doug Elmets, spokesman for the United Auburn Community, which owns Thunder Valley.

Officials with Gov. Jerry Brown’s office were unavailable for comment late Friday.

In a news release, the Governor’s Office said that under the agreement, United Auburn would become one of the largest contributors to a trust fund that benefits tribes that don’t own casinos or have only limited gambling. The tribe said it will contribute $18 million a year to the shared fund.

Under the previous compact, it was paying about $2 million to the trust fund, Elmets said.

“The compact reflects a continued commitment by the tribe to revenue sharing with non-gaming and limited gaming tribes so that the economic benefits of gaming reach tribal governments that have not chosen to operate a tribal casino,” the governor’s news release said.

The last compact negotiated between United Auburn and the state was in 2004, when Arnold Schwarzenegger was governor.

Under that agreement, Thunder Valley could add an unlimited number of slot machines with the provision that it pay more to the state for each machine. That sharply escalating cost of each machine effectively limited the number of slots it could add, Elmets said.

The casino has 2,622 slot machines. Under the agreement with Brown’s administration, it can have up to 3,500 machines without paying more for each, he said.

United Auburn will pay $15 million into the state’s general fund under the new agreement with the option to direct $9 million of that amount toward infrastructure projects on non-Indian lands in Placer County.

Under the compact with Schwarzenegger, it was paying $40.4 million to the state’s general fund, Elmets said.

The new compact extends until the end of 2041.

Hudson Sangree: 916-321-1191, @hudson_sangree

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