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Timothy L. O'Brien

Inside the Battle for California’s Sports Betting Riches

Native Americans want to control sports wagering in the state — and expand their casino empires.

Will the vines be replaced with slot machines? 

Will the vines be replaced with slot machines? 

Photographer: Timothy O'Brien

Sonoma County sunsets transform the greens, russets and yellows of a 68-acre vineyard in Windsor, California, into a portrait of bounty. To the east, in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, a gated community features a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. Across Shiloh Road to the north, more modest homes abut an equestrian center. Jets overhead transit through a regional airport named for “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz. The Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate down the road offers bocce, picnics and pinot noir.

At the end of a long driveway stands a mansion recently occupied by the vineyard’s owner — before he sold the spread for $12.3 million to the Koi Nation. The Koi, a tribe whose ties to the region date back thousands of years, intend to build a casino resort here.