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Said to be the Largest in the History of Native American Gaming, $850 million
in Financing Secured for California's Rohnert Park Casino; Stations Casinos,
Owners of Nine Major Hotel Casinos, to Manage

By Guy Kovner, The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Aug. 16, 2012--An $850 million financing package, said to be the largest in the history of Native American gaming, is now secured, the Las Vegas-based backer of the casino next to Rohnert Park announced Wednesday.

The package will pay for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria's 3,000-slot-machine casino and resort on Wilfred Avenue, according to Station Casinos, which will manage the facility.

Station Casinos announced the financing -- which includes a $375 million loan and a $450 million combination of bonds and a development loan -- in its financial report for the quarter that ended June 30.

The company did not identify the financial institutions providing the funding.

Also included in the package is $25 million worth of revolving credit to be used after the casino opens.

Station Casinos said the financing will close on Wednesday and reported the "blended cost" of the package was about 9.6 percent.

The Graton tribe, which had sought a casino for nearly a decade, broke ground on the 64-acre site just south of Home Depot in mid-June. The casino is expected to open before the end of next year, Station Casinos said.

Graton Rancheria Chairman Greg Sarris did not return a phone call to his office at the tribe's Rohnert Park headquarters requesting comment.

Marc Falcone, Station Casinos executive vice president and chief financial officer, called the financing an "important milestone" for the project.

"We believe this is the largest new construction financing in the history of Native American gaming," Falcone said in a statement.

Station Casinos, which owns nine major hotel casinos and eight smaller casinos in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, also operates an Indian casino in Michigan and is backing one proposed in Madera County.

The company's financial report said it had consolidated net revenues of about $312.3 million in the second quarter, an increase of 4.5 percent for the same period of last year.

The casino financing package includes a $194 million partial repayment to Station Casinos for advances it has made to the Graton Rancheria over the last nine years, including purchase of the land and environmental analysis.

The package was secured by the Graton Economic Development Authority, the tribe's financial arm.

Standard & Poor's gave the authority a "B" rating in a report last week that first disclosed the financing package.

The B rating means bonds issued by the authority are considered to have a higher risk of default but also a higher potential yield, a designation often applied to junk bonds.

It is a common rating for casino projects, a Standard & Poor's analyst said.

The report forecast that the casino would earn $440 million a year by 2016. A gaming agreement signed in March by Gov. Jerry Brown estimated revenue of $392 million in the casino's seventh year.

[END_CREDIT_0]You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or


(c)2012 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.)

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