California’s Sky River Casino Announces Leadership Changes, Expansion Plans

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Sky River Casino, located in Elk Grove, California, has made significant leadership changes. The gambling venue, operated by Boyd Gaming in collaboration with the Wilton Rancheria Tribe, also announced an ambitious expansion plan.

The main change this week was right at the top, with Michael Facenda appointed as the new president of the California brick & mortar casino. He brings with him a wealth of experience from his previous roles in the gaming industry.

Alongside Facenda, the casino has also announced other key leadership appointments ahead of its planned expansion. That will include a new 300-room hotel, a spa, and event space.  

Sky River, owned by the Wilton Rancheria tribe, has had a significant impact on the local economy and for its tribal owners since opening. The $550 million venue celebrated its one-year anniversary in August.

A Resort to Be Proud Of

“Michael brings a wealth of experience to lead the Sky River team,” said a statement from Chris Gibase, Sky River COO and Boyd Gaming SVP.

“He is able to lead the team and strive to build the Sky River property into a resort that the Tribe and greater Elk Grove community will be proud of.”

Facenda will be taking charge of a casino and leadership team in transition. Other key role changes include a new CFO, Clay Crawford, an investment manager who had previously been VP of finance at the casino.

CIO Matthew Morgan will take up the role of VP, and Jeff Jarvis will be the new president of IT.

This new leadership team will be charged with carrying out the expansion, which was announced on August 10. It will include a new 300-room hotel, spa, pool, parking garage, and convention/event facilities.

The casino area itself will be adding a cigar and whiskey lounge to its existing drinks and dining options.

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Happening Elk Grove

Beyond the economics, Sky River Casino Elk Grove has city manager Jason Behrmann excited about his town’s prospects again.

“That’s probably been one of the knocks on Elk Grove over the years — lack of things to do — so that certainly brought new energy,” Behrmann said, speaking to CBS News Sacramento.

“Elk Grove is more on the map and people are talking about things happening in Elk Grove.”

The casino stands as the only tribal casino in Sacramento County.

Behrmann proudly said that Sky River is now among the top five employers in Elk Grove, with more than 1,600 employees. With plans for expansion on the horizon, the number of local employment opportunities is set to rise.

Pathway to Self-Sufficiency

In August 2022, the casino also announced a recurring payment of $1 million to the city. This gesture, part of a 2016 memorandum of understanding, will fund local community projects and infrastructure. Over the next 20 years, the Wilton Rancheria tribe will provide Elk Grove with nearly $132 million, with funds allocated for services like police and roadway maintenance.

The casino has also been part of a resurgence for the Wilton Rancheria tribe. After losing its federally recognized status for 50 years, the tribe views the casino’s success as a pathway to self-sufficiency.

Which, considering U.S. tribal casinos had a record year of revenues in 2022, isn’t a far-fetched proposition.

Jesus Tarango, chairman of Wilton Rancheria, also reiterated the casino’s commitment to the community.

“I believe everybody that’s in our community deserves to benefit from Sky River, not just those who come in and gamble,” Tarango said.

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