The Graton Resort & Casino's new multimedia campaign aims to 'make a statement.'


The Graton Resort & Casino near Rohnert Park today will launch a multimedia advertising campaign estimated to cost millions of dollars.

Pegged to the casino's Nov. 5 opening date, the effort expands on a social media and billboard publicity campaign up and running for about a year that has, often focused on attracting prospective employees.

"That campaign still continues but now it's time to move to the next phase," said Joe Hasson, general manager of the casino, which is owned by the Federated Indians of GratonRancheria.

Station Casinos of Las Vegas, which is managing the $800 million, 3,000-slot machine casino on Rohnert Park's outskirts, is known for its high-impact, big-splash marketing, said Dennis Conrad, owner and president of Ravings Consulting, a casino marketing company in Reno.

"This isn't going to be a cheap proposition," Conrad said.

"This will be a several million dollar rollout; they're not going to do it small," he said. "They're trying to make a statement that we're the big player in the market."

The mix of print, radio, and televisions advertisements will extend as far as the reach of Bay Area television stations and likely beyond, Hasson said. Internet advertisements, of course, have no bounds.

The campaign features celebrities — a song by hip-hop sensations Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis will be in television spots — and colorful print advertisements will highlight the casino's position as the largest in the Bay Area and the closest to San Francisco.

"Bay to Play in 43 minutes," states one advertisement. "Winning Just Got Closer," says another.

"It wouldn't surprise me if they spent more than a $1 million a month," said Randy Fine, founder and managing director of The Fine Point Group, a Las Vegas casino management and consulting firm. "It wouldn't surprise me if they spent more."

Hasson would not reveal the cost of the marketing campaign, but said it would range far afield and be a constant presence.

"What you'll see is a reach and a frequency the likes of which the Greater Bay Area has not previously seen in terms of opening a new business," he said. "We will do what it takes to resonate with millions and millions of people, something north of eight million people."

The message, said Fine, will be single-minded.

"It's called, 'We're open and we're closest,'" he said. "That's really all you need to do."

The 320,000-square-foot casino is being built in rapid fashion on a 66-acre site. It took barely a year-and-a-half to rise from what was a green field south of the Home Depot.

Roughly 700 workers took part in that effort and Hasson said that once it opens the casino will employ about 2,000 people.

A market assessment done in 2012 for Station Casinos projected a total annual gaming revenue at $532.6 million by 2016.

The project has traveled a long road since 2003, when the tribe first announced it wanted to build a casino. It has been controversial from the start and that is unlikely to change with opening day.

Opponents are readying a Nov. 5 protest in the casino's vicinity, although where exactly is not yet clear, said Chip Worthington, a leader of the Stop Graton Casino group.

"We're right in the process of organizing it," he said Monday.

The group also is planning to appeal a Sonoma County judge's ruling against its lawsuit challenging the tribe's sovereignty over its 254-acre reservation.

You can reach Staff Writer Jeremy Hay at 521-5212 or