The new casino in Rohnert Park is within weeks of announcing an official opening date, staff said Friday.
"We still aiming for fall of this year, so we're getting mighty close," Joe Hasson, vice president and general manager of the Graton Resort and Casino. "We'll have a real date; with just a little bit more construction behind us, we'll be able call a real date.'
Developers have long said they would like to open around the first of November. Narrowing down that date is of considerable public interest, since it will determine when thousands of workers can report for duty, when restaurant owners and other businesses can move in, and when revenue begins flowing to tribe that owns the casino, the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, and eventually to the city and county.
Hasson and his aides seemed optimistic they could meet or beat the November date, based on the pace of construction.
"The ceiling is beginning to take on a little bit of a finished look; there is carpet in progress; slot machines — first one arrives today; restaurants are being shaped out," Hasson said. "So we're at a point now where a lot of what's being done now is no longer the infrastructure, it is the beautiful aspects of the casino. It will look like a casino resort in short order."
Hasson met with the media Friday to mark the arrival of the first of more than 3,000 slot machines — in this case a model from Bally Technologies worth about $25,000.
Hasson displayed the machine, adorned with balloons, in front of the casino. The public and media are still not allowed to look inside the structure, reportedly for security reasons, but the rest of the machines in the first shipment were inside being installed. It will take several months to receive, install and test the slot machines.
Most games are entirely electronic, even if they are tricked out with old-fashioned looking handles, Hasson said. But the casino will have a handful of old-fashioned mechanical games, although even those now contain at least some electronics.
"Old school is good," he said.
All the machines will be equipped to accept currency — coins and bills — and also the credit-card like prepaid cards offered by the casino.