People familiar with California know that Oroville, about 65 miles north of Sacramento, is home to the nation’s largest and tallest earth-filled dam.
The more knowledgeable are aware the historic, 14,000-resident town on the Feather River had its beginnings in the Gold Rush and is northeast of the Sutter Buttes, the world’s smallest mountain range.
Oroville is also home to two pretty sizeable Indian casinos: Feather Falls and Gold Country.
Two large casinos in such a thinly populated area make for great competition, which benefits customers with solid entertainment; great, reasonably priced food and lodging; and generous players’ club rewards.
Almost all the rooms at Gold Country have Jacuzzi tubs. With certain promotions, luxury suites at either club can be had for about $120 a night.
A visit to the Feather Falls buffet (it was barbecue night) had a long, though fast moving, waiting line that included many local residents. Most people had varieties of dollars-off coupons bringing the cost per person to around $5.
“Because of the economy and because of competition you have to have aggressive marketing,” Gold Country general manager Jack Fisher said.
By car, Oroville is 2½ to 3 hours from the Bay Area. Gold Country offers an extensive bus network.
“There are people who want to pick a day trip to get out of the house and do a little gambling,” Fisher said. Taking a bus can be “a relaxing trip, they can have a nice day gambling and dining,” he said.
Gold Country, on the road to the Oroville Dam visitor center, opened as a Bingo hall in a few trailers in 1996. It grew to occupy two sprung structures and expanded again five years ago, into a six-story hotel and casino. The sprung structures (metal frames with heavy, tentlike fabric) are still used: One houses poker and Bingo; the other is the showroom.
Gold Country ends a celebration of its 13th anniversary this weekend with Creedence Clearwater Revisited playing Saturday. The casino has booked other top entertainment, like Lacy J. Dalton and Brenda Lee (Dec. 5). Busta-Groove, a popular Bay Area party band, plays a free concert Oct. 2.
Gold Country is owned by the Berry Creek Rancheria of Tyme Maidu Indians, with about 300 members, 136 of whom live on its 65-acre reservation.
Oroville has a couple of big annual events, said Chris Robbins of the Oroville Chamber of Commerce. This weekend is the 15th annual Salmon Festival, with a parade, runs and street fair; in May, there’s the Feather Fiesta, a huge car show and parade.
Feather Falls, owned by the Concow-Maidu of Mooretown Rancheria, is south of Oroville. It opened a small casino in three trailers in 1996, expanding again in 1998 and 2002, adding the hotel in 2007.
Feather Falls Casino & Lodge
Where: No. 3 Alverda Drive, Oroville 95966
Phone: (877) 652-4646
Tables: Nine poker, 12 table games
Extras: 84-room hotel, 750-seat showroom, KOA campground
Gold Country Casino & Hotel
Where: 4020 Olive Highway, Oroville 95966
Phone: (800) 334-9400
Tables: 10 poker, 14 table games
Extras: 87-room hotel, award-winning Steakhouse Restaurant, piano bar, Bingo, 24-lane bowling alley, 1,200-seat showroom.