California’s capitol city is a mecca of sorts for gambling, as there are six Indian casinos within easy driving distance of Sacramento, with another one on the way.
There are 41 casinos in Northern California, meaning the Sacramento area is home to 14% of NorCal’s casinos.
You should note that in addition to the six casinos, there are ten card rooms within a 20 mile radius of downtown.
However here we’re just talking about Indian casinos, which – unlike card rooms – have slot machines, video poker machines, craps tables (albeit without dice), and the like.
As you can see from the map below, these six casinos are spread out to the north and outskirts of Sacramento.
Here’s a little more information on each of the six Sacramento-area casinos, in order of their exact driving distances as measured when starting from the Sacramento city hall downtown:
Thunder Valley Casino Resort (Black star) – 28 miles
One of the largest of the 64 casinos in California, Thunder Valley is the closest casino to Sacramento.
It’s also the biggest. The Auburn Journal reports the Lincoln casino sees 16,000 customers per day. The casino has 3,500 slot machines/video poker machines, and 110 table games. The resort claims it has 250,000 square feet of gaming space, making it one of the country’s biggest casinos.
(Each colored star represents one of the 6 Sacramento-area casinos)
There is also a bingo room with room for 800 players, and a beautiful 50 table poker room that plays host to World Series of Poker satellite events, as well as nationally televised tournaments, such as the Heartland Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour.
In addition to an ultra lounge, standard casino bars and a pool bar, there are three sit-down restaurants, a buffet, and a food court that has six options, including a Peet’s Coffee, Pizza Hut Express, Fatburger and Panda Express.
On the entertainment side, Thunder Valley has three venues: a lounge band type of stage, a 2,000 seat indoor venue, and a 5,000 seat outdoor amphitheater. Thunder Valley’s 17 story hotel tower has 408 rooms.
1200 Athens Avenue
Lincoln, CA. 95648
Website: Thunder Valley Resort
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sacramento at Fire Mountain (Brown Star) – 36 miles
The Hard Rock Sacramento Fire Mountain opened in October 2019.
It’s located 36 miles due north of Sacramento, near Wheatland, just south of Yuba City.
Built at a cost of $450 million, the resort boasts 1,587 slot machines, 57 table games, and the loud party-vibe the Hard Rock casino chain in known for. You’ll find all of the favorites here, including blackjack, roulette, mini-baccarat and California craps.
You won’t however, find a poker room. Nor is there a sports book of course, as sports betting is still not allowed in the Golden State.
The 300,000 square foot resort includes a 170 room hotel, a pool, 8,500 square feet of convention space, bars, spa, and six restaurants, ranging from a pricey steakhouse to the Fresh Harvest Buffet, and of course, a Hard Rock Cafe.
While they have live music at bars, and at Club Velvet, they don’t have their own huge concert venue, as found at other Hard Rock casinos around the country. The HRC Sacramento at Fire Mountain has, however, partnered with the Toyota Amphitheater just a tad over a mile down the road.
3317 Forty Mile Road
Wheatland, CA. 95692
Website: Hard Rock Sacramento
Red Hawk Casino (Red star) – 37 miles
Located north and east of Sacramento on Highway 50 in Placerville, the Red Hawk has 88,000 square feet of casino floor space. It’s full of 2,500 slot machines, 75 table games, which includes tables in their poker room.
Red Hawk says that they have $5 minimum black jack games – even on weekends!
While it does not have a hotel, the Red Hawk has 4 sit down restaurants, including the requisite buffet.
They even have a kid’s play area, in which they offer baby sitting for kids from 6 weeks of age to 12.
1 Red Hawk Parkway
Placerville, CA. 95667
Cache Creek Casino & Resort (Green star) – 46 miles
The only casino east of town, Cache Creek Casino is a growing resort 46 miles away in Brooks, California.
The resort sets on a beautiful acreage, across from vineyards. There’s even some grapes growing on open space in front of the resort.
Popular with residents of San Francisco and Sacramento alike, Cache Creek is currently undergoing a $200 million dollar expansion, which will bring the hotel’s room count to 659 rooms, as well as add restaurants, event space, and bars.
As for the casino, it won’t be expanded. However it’s plenty big as it stands, with 94,000 square feet of casino floor space, 2,400 slots and video poker machines, and 122 table games, (this includes the resort’s 14 table poker room).
Cache Creek has four sit-down restaurants, a buffet, and four counter-style to-go restaurants.
Cache Creek’s golf course, Yocha Dehe Golf Club, sits just a few hundred feet to the east of the casino, but is not your typical casino golf course. Golfing publications give it very high marks. In fact, in 2015, GolfAdvisor.com ranked it the number one public course in the country.
14455 Highway 16
Brooks, CA. 95606
Website: Cache Creek Casino Resort
Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort (Yellow star) – 51 miles
The second most distant of the Sacramento-area casinos, the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort sits around 51 miles southeast of downtown in, well, Jackson, California.
Seventeen hundred slots and video poker machines dot the resort, along with 32 table games (blackjack, mini-baccarat and all the usual favorites), and a six table poker room.
There are four restaurants, an 1,800 seat outdoor event area that plays host to concerts and MMA fights, and an indoor ballroom with concert seating for 800.
Jackson Rancheria has an 86 room hotel and a popular 100 spot RV park nearby with free, 24 hour a day shuttle service to and from the casino.
12222 New York Ranch Road
Jackson, CA. 95642
Harrah’s Northern California (Purple Star) – 53 miles
Opened in April of 2019, Harrah’s Northern California is located to the southeast of Sacramento, near Ione, California. It’s about an hour’s drive from downtown Sacramento.
The 71,000 square foot casino has 950 slot machines, and 20 table games. In addition to three quick-service restaurants, there is one full service restaurant. There’s not a hotel here, nor are there entertainment venues.
Ione, CA 95640
This yet-to-be named project is expected to cost 1/2 billion dollars. It will break ground this year on land just off Highway 99 in Elk Grove. Once completed, (the forecast is for late 2021), it will be the closest casino to Sacramento – at a distance of just 18 miles south of downtown.
By Steve Beauregard (Photos courtesy of each respective casino, except for Cache Creek, which comes from the city of Vallejo)