United States District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill on Tuesday removed the last legal obstacle for the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino to reopen. The Coarsegold establishment was shut down by government agencies due to tribal conflicts. In the Judge’s order was stated that upon lifting the Closure Order, “the Tribe may operate the Casino.” With the order removed, Chukchansi might start with its operations as soon as January, 2016.
A day before the Judge issued the final order, the Federal Government signed off on an agreement with the newly elected Tribal Council. The ruling affirms the National Indian Gaming Commission’s approval for the facility to be reopened which was announced Monday. An opening date still hasn’t be revealed.
Clauida Gonzales, Tribal Chairwoman, said that it was a “great day” for the Tribe and the people of Madera County. She pointed out that now the final legal documents were in place, they could move quickly to “reopen and put employees back to work.” Gonzales mentioned that there wasn’t a specific opening date, but promised to announce it “very shortly.” She finished her statement saying that both the Tribe and the Community would soon be able “to celebrate a grand reopening.”
The casino was closed in October, 2014, by the state and federal governments because of a tribal fractions dispute, which erupted during a raid. The dispute resulted in violent encounters as well as evacuation of employees and patrons. Most of the 15 felony cases from the event were settled earlier, with the last case disposed of just this month.
Madera County supervisor, Tom Wheeler, commented on the news saying that it was “kind of a Christmas present for Madera County, the community members and tribal members.” He highlighted that once the casino is reopened many tribal members would get their jobs back and have money for better education and housing. He described the situation as a “win-win.”
Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino used to employ around 1,000 people; approximately 80% of those people were from the County. The facility offered live table games, slot machines, over 400 luxurious hotel rooms, spa and other amenities.