Casino in Sonoma County Cancels Indoor New Year's Eve Party With 4,000 Guests

Health officer says the Native American tribe is a sovereign nation and not subject to county or state public health orders

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A casino on Native American land in Sonoma County that was planning a massive indoor New Year's Eve party despite public health orders banning such gatherings, canceled the event Thursday, according to casino officials.

Graton Resort and Casino outside Rohnert Park had planned to host the private party with 4,000 guests, county officials said during a virtual news conference Wednesday.

A representative with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, which owns the casino, said in a social media message Thursday that the casino will close at 5 p.m. Dec. 31 for all activities, and "all parties and gatherings on New Year's Eve have been canceled."

No reason was given for the cancellation.

The tribe is a sovereign nation and not subject to county or state public health orders, Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said during the Wednesday news conference.

Mase added the casino has been open for several months during the pandemic, and the operator has taken steps to reduce the risk of casino guests contracting the coronavirus. She also said bars at the casino are closed, and walk-up alcohol service ends at 9 p.m.

On Thursday, just before 1 p.m., Graton's website said the casino would become a "private venue" and close to the public from 5 p.m. Dec. 31 until 4 a.m. Jan. 1. That message was no longer up later in the afternoon.

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