Sky River doubles down on Elk Grove with expansion plans: Hotel, pools, parking and more

Sky River, which opened less than two years ago, announced ambitious plans to expand with a new hotel, amenities and attractions in the hopes of bringing more of the capital region’s gambling dollars into Elk Grove.

During a news conference Friday outside the $400 million, 100,000-square-foot facility that opened in August 2022, casino officials and members of the Wilton Rancheria tribe unveiled plans for a 300-room hotel, expanded gaming space, a day spa along with an outdoor pool facility and a new restaurant and bar.

The plans, the cost of which were not disclosed, are expected to be completed by the summer of 2027.

But first, officials will build a 1,600-space parking garage, as well as a new grand entrance to the casino along Highway 99 which will feature a porte-cochère, an opulent covered entrance and glass atrium, featuring enhanced valet service. Those additions will come as early as summer 2025.

“Our guests will continue to get what we’ve become known for – the Sky River Casino experience,” Michael Facenda, the casino’s president and general manager, told the 100 in attendance during their outdoor ceremony that included native prayers, singing and dancing. “We’re poised to be California’s ultimate casino destination.”

Sky River’s plans double down on attractions and lodging amid a pitched battle with other casinos vying for dominance in the capital region. Thunder Valley Casino near Rocklin, for example, recently opened The Venue, a 4,500-seat entertainment space, just as Red Hawk Casino outside of Shingle Springs unveiled its Apex family entertainment center and hotel. Cache Creek Casino in western Yolo County continued to lure visitors with its hotel and golf course.

Plans for Sky River’s expansion have been rumored for months.

In a call with investors in February, Sky River’s casino operator Boyd Gaming said the Elk Grove destination was among the strongest properties in its portfolio. Officials said it collected $76.9 million in management fees, a fraction of what the gaming tables brought in during their first full year of operation.

Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith said they plan to “significantly expand and enhance” the experience at Sky River to position the casino as a unique regional getaway.

That will include the state-of-the-art hotel, which will feature outdoor pools, a day spa, a 20,000-square-foot banquet space for meetings and events, as well as a full-service restaurant and bar in the lobby — bring the number of restaurants, bars and lounges to 19.

“These expansion plans for Sky River will continue to set new standards of excellence,” Facenda said. “Once we have a world-class hotel, event space and other highly desirable amenities, we will offer a destination of appeal to guests who will travel in search of elevated experiences.”

More slots

The gaming floor of 2,100 slot machines and 80 table games will also expand with 400 more slots and an additional high-limit gaming room and VIP space.

“We’ll improve our parking, expand our gaming options, introduce even more food and beverage for the first time,” Smith said. “Through this expansion, we will give people throughout Northern California a new reason to come and visit and we’ll give our existing customers new reasons to continue to come back day after day, and week after week.”

Wilton Rancheria chairman Jesus Tarango said the new development was about laying a foundation for a future with new possibilities for the tribe and the entire region.

Officials say as many as 200 new positions will be created once the new facilities are opened in two years. That would bring the total number of jobs on the site to 1,800 — third in the city only to the Elk Grove Unified School District (6,679) and Apple (roughly 5,000).

“This project will create more jobs, stimulate local businesses and contribute to the overall economic health of our region,” Tarango said. “This is an important act that signifies our presence, our commitment and resiliency to ourselves and our community. Expanding Sky River echoes those values.”

Opportunities for the tribe

Tarango added that he was optimistic about the opportunities the expansion would bring to his tribe.

“It will safeguard a bright future for Wilton Rancheria today. It represents our commitment to re-establish our cultural heritage and leave a legacy of opportunity and prosperity for future generations,” Tarango said.

The announcement of their expansion came the day before the tribe celebrated its 15th anniversary of being federally recognized, the only such tribe in Sacramento County. The Wilton band has also celebrated the safeguarding of 77 acres of land the tribe reclaimed last month, as well as the acquisition of 30 acres along Lent Ranch and Promenade parkways.

The expansion also comes as the Sacramento Zoo prepared to become its neighbor after the Elk Grove City Council approved construction of a new $302 million facility on Kammerer Road and Lotz Parkway, less than two miles west of Sky River.

“We are very proud of what we have created — and continue to imagine — at Sky River Casino,” Tarango said. “With these expansion plans now firmly in process, the future is even brighter for the Elk Grove community, greater Sacramento area, and for generations of Wilton Rancheria people.”