Thunder Valley caters to high rollers, literally

Move over, Las Vegas. Thunder Valley Casino Resort northeast of Sacramento has started a helicopter service for its very best customers from Hayward, Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco to the Lincoln Airport, a few miles from the casino.

For decades, casinos’ best customers — the high rollers — have been treated to the best amenities, free meals, fancy lodging and top entertainment, all in an effort to get them to gamble more. The bigger clubs would often provide private air and ground transportation to bring these guests in.

Casino spokesman Doug Elmets said the chartered helicopter service “is intended for our very best players to make it more convenient than going to Reno or Las Vegas.”

“Thunder Valley is the first casino in California to offer such a service and it is an example of the other amenities that we offer all our patrons — service, fine dining, great entertainment and a chance to win,” he said.

So far, the helicopter service has flown a couple of flights. Lincoln Airport is about eight miles away, and guests are brought to Thunder Valley by limousine.

“It’s just one more unexpected way Thunder Valley is providing our best guests with the best services,” General Manager C.J. Graham said. “With the opening of our new hotel and spa, our 160-seat poker room and the fine dining offered at High Steaks, Thunder Valley provides a world-class resort experience; our new helicopter service lets our guests achieve that experience before they even walk in the door.”

Part of Thunder Valley’s expansion included a rooftop heliport on its hotel tower. Depending on demand and regulatory approvals, the charter helicopters could eventually land at Thunder Valley.

Located about 30 miles northeast of Sacramento, Thunder Valley was opened by the United Auburn Indian Community in June 2003. A large expansion including a 17-story hotel was completed in July.

IF YOU GO

Thunder Valley Casino Resort

Location: 1200 Athens Ave., Lincoln
Phone: (877) 468-8777
On the Web: www.thundervalleycasino.com
Slots: 3,000
Tables: 125; poker: seating for 160
Restaurants: 14
Rooms: 297
Extras: Electronic craps and roulette machines

apacciorini@sfexaminer.com

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