United States: Another Tribal Casino Facing Financial Distress – This One May Have Been Its Own Worst Enemy
...The casino site is located on the Dry Creek Rancheria, a small federal fee tract of land located some seven miles east of U.S. Highway 101 at Geyserville. Visitors must drive a two-lane country road to reach the site, and then navigate a narrow, winding country road (now paved) up a steep hillside to the casino itself. Water supply and waste disposal have been problems in the past, although one of the project's worst problems was that the hill was unstable and a major "hillside stabilization project" had to be completed before major construction could be commenced. That project reportedly cost some $15 million at the time.
Because of the narrow roads serving the casino site from U.S. 101, access always has been a concern. Indeed, a major component of the refinancing would provide funding to construct an emergency access road.
Prior to the casino's construction, the Alexander Valley Association (an organization consisting of the landowners within the valley) even brokered agreements with local and federal officials and politicians that would have facilitated a rare off-reservation casino development. Proposed sites for the casino were located adjacent to U.S. 101 and featured easy access to the site. Comprehensive utility services were in place for each of the prospective sites, not the least of which were those for water and sewer. For reasons never made clear, the tribe and its developers rejected all of these alternative locations in favor of using Rancheria land.
The tried and true axiom for any real estate acquisition is "location, location, location." A prime consideration for many casino developments has been the ability to "capture" highway traffic to augment the local population clientele. While there are no known publicly released studies identifying the capture rate for River Rock, geographical location may raise some concerns.
The casino is constructed, so relocating to improve the capture rate may not be a viable option. With the challenges in today's finance markets, the consequences of past decisions can be, and often are, amplified. The confluence of today's "new [ab]normal" finance markets and past decisions may well spin the tale of River Rock when its story is finally written.