Under the terms of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria's 20-year gaming compact, millions of dollars a year would flow not only to the tribe, but to local governments, other Indian tribes and the Las Vegas company that is to manage the casino.
The compact — the 69th in California since 2000 — is a negotiated contract between the state and the tribe allowing it to run a Nevada-style gaming operation.
The annual payment formulas set out in it are designed to:
Ensure the tribe meets its negotiated financial obligations to address the casino's impacts on areas including the environment, traffic and public safety;
Assist Indian tribes that do not have their own gambling operations;
Fund future grants to local governments and agencies that can demonstrate the casino is impacting them.
But the tribe's interests are foremost in the compact, officials said.
"The tribe should be the primary beneficiary of the gaming operation," said Jacob Applesmith, a senior adviser to Gov. Jerry Brown who negotiated sections of the compact.
While the compact requires the Graton Rancheria to pay 15 percent of its net gaming income to Sonoma County and Rohnert Park, it waives that requirement for the seven years after the casino opens. During that period, the tribe first takes money for itself and to pay down the more than $200 million it has rung up in "pre-development costs."
That would cut into how much the county and Rohnert Park would get initially -- although they would still get about a combined $100 million over seven years if the tribe's revenue projections hold up. The formula also promises a major bump in payments after that.
Estimated initial revenues for a 3,000-slot machine casino are $328.5 million, and in its seventh year, $392 million.
In the first year of casino operations, the tribe is to reserve $9,000 per member -- it has about 1,300 -- up to a total of $11.65 million.
Above that, the tribe is to keep $13,000 per member, up to $17 million, to pay down its debt to its financial backer, Station Casinos, which is to manage the casino for the first seven years.
By its seventh year, the tribe is to keep $21,000 per tribal member for the "benefit of the tribe and tribal members," the compact says. By that point, the set-aside for debt payment is $2,225 per member.
At that point, payments to the county and city would likely rise as the requirement kicks in for the tribe to make its full 15 percent of earnings payments.
— Jeremy Hay