After eight months, Boyd’s Northern California tribal casino may expand
The Sky River Casino near Sacramento, which is operated by Boyd Gaming, has been open since August, but the Wilton Rancheria Tribe is already exploring development opportunities for the property.
Boyd CEO Keith Smith said last week the 100,000-square-foot casino has been so successful in its first eight months that the company revised its predicted full-year 2023 management fees from $50 million to $65 million to $70 million.
The tribe is also considering an expansion to Sky River, which sits on 36 acres along Highway 99 in Elk Grove. Boyd owns a vacant 64-acre site next to the casino, which has 2,000 slot machines, 80 table games and 17 food and beverage venues.
“It's really up to them. I don't know if they've disclosed exactly what it is they want to do, but they want to expand it,” Smith said in an interview following the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call.
Sky River doesn’t have a hotel, convention space or a live entertainment venue. But the casino is consistently full of customers and Boyd “went heavy” on the food and beverage options, including a large steakhouse, a gastro pub, an Asian restaurant and a food hall with a dozen venues.
“I would imagine it would be some combination, but (the tribe) has to make the determination as to what it is and what they want to do,” Smith said.
The $500 million Sky River was a month ahead of schedule. Boyd built the property and operates the location for Wilton Rancheria through a seven-year management contract.
Sky River was the third Northern California casino to open in the Sacramento region since 2019 and could be viewed as direct competition to casinos in Reno, Sparks and Lake Tahoe.
Harrah's Northern California opened in April 2019 in the town of Ione and is operated by Caesars Entertainment. It is owned by the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians. Hard Rock Sacramento at Fire Mountain opened in October 2019 and is operated by Hard Rock Entertainment for the Estom Yumeka Maidu Indians of the Enterprise Rancheria.
“We think it's a pretty stable business,” Smith said on the call. “We haven't been through a full year, so I don't think we fully understand the seasonality of that business. But we haven't seen any true seasonality in the eight months it's been open.”
Macquarie Securities gaming analyst Chad Beynon called Sky River one of several “revenue growth drivers” Boyd has developed outside of the company’s core businesses.
Boyd collected more than half of its $964 million in first-quarter revenue from its regional casinos in nine states. Boyd also grew interactive gaming revenue by 123 percent, which includes online casinos in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and its online sports betting partnership with FanDuel.
This story was published by The Nevada Independent on May 3 and reprinted here with permission.