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2nd day smooth for Rohnert Park casino

  • Rohnert Park City Council member Jake Mackenzie tours the Graton Resort and Casino Tuesday Nov. 5, 2013 in Rohnert Park. While Tuesday was filled with large crowds and traffic jams in the parking lot and on Hwy. 101, Wednesday proved to be a very different day. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) (BETH SCHLANKER/ PD)

Day 2 at the Graton Resort & Casino was very different from Day 1.

A day after thousands of people flocked to the $800 million casino's public debut, backing up Highway 101 and clogging Rohnert Park streets, traffic was moving smoothly Wednesday.

Thousands of visitors came and went as they pleased, rather than waiting at the casino's doors, slowly being metered in while more than 5,000 guests enjoyed themselves inside.

Graton Resort & Casino Opening

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“We've had a nice steady flow of guests pouring in, certainly not resembling what we saw yesterday,” said Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications for Station Casinos, which manages the gambling palace outside Rohnert Park.

“It's been been comfortable, very relaxed, and still very excited reactions by people seeing the venue,” Nelson said.

The CHP had extra units patrolling in case of congestion problems, but Officer Kimberly Lemons characterized the day as, “smooth sailing.”

On Tuesday, thousands of people attended the casino's debut and from morning through mid-afternoon Highway 101 was backed up — at one point to Highway 37. Streets around the casino were just as jammed.

The surprise arrival of 75 unscheduled tour buses full of gamblers added to Tuesday's gridlock, Nelson said. The casino floor was packed with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.

Wednesday was considerably calmer. Inside the gambling hall, the frenetic, party-like atmosphere that lasted the entire opening day and well into the night had evened out.

At 9 a.m., the difference was stark. It appeared that fewer than half of the 3,000 slot machines were occupied while a smattering of people ate breakfast in the food court. Here and there, a vacuum was pushed around. There were perhaps 1,200 people inside, but in a 340,000 square foot casino that can appear like a small crowd.

On opening day at the same time, there had been about 3,000 people on the casino floor and that number quickly doubled.

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