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Rohnert Park casino could open by 2013

Construction of an Indian casino next to Rohnert Park could start within months and it could be open to gamblers next year, the Las Vegas company that is financing the project said Tuesday.

"We anticipate starting construction on the project this summer and opening by the end of 2013," Station Casinos said in its latest quarterly statement.

Brief as it was, the statement was the most definitive timeline made public about the 65,000-square-foot casino, which will have 3,000 slot machines as well as game tables. It has been planned since 2003 by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.

Station officials have said they expect the casino, just south of Home Depot and west of the Scandia Family Fun Center, to cost upward of $700 million, including land purchase. A 200-room hotel is to be built later, they say.

Local union leaders confirmed Tuesday they have reached new agreements governing the use of union workers on the project. Those were finalized in April at a meeting in Santa Rosa with Station officials and Perini Building Co., a Las Vegas contractor involved in many Station ventures.

The agreement "gives preference to our local workforce," said Jack Buckhorn, secretary and treasurer of the Building Trades Council of Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino.

The tribe's statements that the casino construction will employ about 900 workers "are a very good estimate," Buckhorn said.

The Legislature ratified the tribe's agreement with the state last week. Known as a compact, it is under review at the Department of the Interior, which has 45 days to approve or reject it. If the department takes no action within 45 days, the compact automatically takes effect.

Station officials Tuesday declined comment.

Opponents of the casino, which would be one of the state's largest, have vowed to continue to fight it on environmental and other legal grounds.

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