Thunder Valley Casino Resort Review

The United Auburn Indian community has certainly come a long way. They are a very small tribe with only 52 people living on their little reservation in the Sacramento Valley in California, but this band of Indians packs a big punch these days.

In earlier times, the federal government sought to disband a lot of small reservations, and this band fell prey to this in 1967, with residents given a small piece of land instead, and most having to sell it due to not being able to keep up with the property taxes. While poverty has always been a problem with Indian tribes, this tribe certainly had it worse than most.

In 1991, the Auburn Indians petitioned the government to have them be recognized again. After being initially rejected, the case was appealed and in 1994 they finally regained their status as an Indian tribe.

Some of the members of the tribe wanted to build a coffee shop, but Chief Jessica Tavares had bigger dreams. She wanted a casino to be built on their land. The tribe had no money though. The local community was strongly opposed to the idea as well. This was going to be a challenge.

They acquired a 49 acre parcel of land outside Lincoln, California, so now they had recognized sovereignty and some land to exercise it on, but still had no way to develop it. The years passed, but Chief Tavares remained firm in her resolve. Band members kept asking when the casino was coming, and the answer was always “soon.”  Soon ended up being almost 10 years, but the dream was finally realized in 2003.

Thunder Valley became an enormous success, and ended up making this impoverished tribe very well off indeed. They eagerly share with the community though and give away $1 million a year to charity, with much of it given locally. In spite of their sovereignty, they work closely with the state government who wishes all California Indian tribes would be so easy to deal with and so compliant.

Thunder Valley gets 10,000 guests a day on average and is one of the most popular Indian casinos in California. In 2010 they added a 17 story luxury hotel with 300 rooms, including 40 suites. They also added a 1000 seat entertainment hall, a spa, a pool, and 14 bars and restaurants.

Construction is now underway to expand the facility further, which will add 111 more hotel rooms and modernize the resort even further. They have certainly hit the big time now.

The Facilities at Thunder Valley

The room selection at Thunder Valley is a pretty simple matter, coming down to whether you want a room with a king or two queen beds, or a suite. The rooms here are quite spacious though, with 535 square feet of living space, and are quite well appointed.

The furnishings are very nice, and come with a marble bathroom, both a shower and a soaking tub, robes, ironing board and iron, in room safe, hair dryer, refrigerator, coffee maker, wireless internet, and 3 telephones. The suites are similarly appointed, but are twice the size.

There are several selections as far as dining options go and Thunder Valley takes its dining fare quite seriously. It is headlined by the four diamond award winning steakhouse High Steaks, considered to be the best in the area.

For more casual dining, the Thunder Café offers the ambiance and food of a classic American diner. There’s also a buffet restaurant with all you can eat fare along with regular specials.

Those who enjoy Asian cuisine will want to check out the Red Lantern. There’s also a 5 restaurant food court, including Pizza Hut, Subway, Fatburger, Panda Express, and Peet’s Coffee and Tea.

The entertainment options here include concerts at their outdoor amphitheater, featuring a lot of big names from the past. The Main Stage indoors offers even more live entertainment. There are bars at High Steaks and the Red Lantern, as well as three lounges, Illusions, Mingle and the Thunder Bar.

The spa here is open from 10 AM to 7 PM daily and offers a full range of spa services for those seeking to relax and unwind or receive one of their many spa treatments. They also have a fitness center and a seasonal pool area, the Coconut Pool + Bar.

The Casino At Thunder Valley

The casino at Thunder Valley is the centerpiece of the project and it’s world class, with 144,500 square feet of gaming space. There are 3000 slot and video poker machines here, with stakes ranging from a penny to $100. Whatever you want to play, from classic three reel slots to the latest and hottest video slots, they have it all. Some machines even have 100% payouts.

Thunder Valley also labels the hottest 40 slots on the floor based upon recent payouts. All of the slots here are wired to their Thunder Strike Jackpot, paying out between $50,000 and $150,000, so all the machines here are progressives. They also have 100 true progressive slots, with jackpots running into the millions, and they hold the record for the biggest jackpot ever paid at a California casino of over $12 million.

The table games area here features 125 tables and a good selection of different table games to play. Blackjack is the most popular game here, and there are four versions, including Blackjack, Bet ‘Em All Blackjack, Blackjack Switch, and Free Bet Blackjack, as well as the similar game Spanish 21.

They also have Baccarat, California Craps, Fortune Pai Gow, Mystery Card Roulette, Three Card Poker, Four Card Poker, Ultimate Texas Holdem, Mississippi Stud, and Dealer Bluff Poker.

California is the king of live poker, and Thunder Valley has a large poker room with seating for up to 340 players. The poker room here has hosted several large events including a World Poker tour stop. Players can play cash games as well as daily tournaments and there’s plenty of poker promotions that run here as well.

Bingo is also available to be played at Thunder Valley from Sundays through Thursdays. There’s also a high limit gaming area on site where players really get the VIP treatment.

Thunder Valley has certainly risen up to be one of the best and most popular casinos in California, and is conveniently located just a half hour’s drive from Sacramento. If you’re going to be in the area it is well worth checking out.

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