If all else goes well, as many as 1,300 people could return to work at the troubled Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in California before the end of the year. The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians reached a new deal with Madera County, announced Wednesday, that would restore $1 million a year in payments to the county and includes increased public safety such as additional policing and future negotiations for fire protection. The tribe still needs state and federal approvals to re-open after being shuttered for more than a year.
In October 2014 the casino was closed by the California Attorney General’s office and a federal judge as a threat to public safety after an armed raid resulted from a conflict between rival factions of the tribe. The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) also pulled their casino license immediately. They have since elected a new government and most elements are focused on getting the NIGC’s approval to re-open their lucrative casino enterprise.
Under the agreement the County will provide a deputy onsite 24 hours a day at the expense of the casino for the first six months after opening. An office and communications equipment will be provided by the tribe. The tribe already pays for a full-time officer who is assigned an area not to exceed 20 minutes response time from the resort.
In a statement released before yesterday’s meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairman David Roger said, “We are anticipating the long awaited conclusion to the negotiations with the tribe and ratification of the MOU (memorandum of understanding),” Roger stated. “This is another step forward in their journey to restart their operations, which is in the best interests of the tribe and the county.”
In addition to direct payments formerly made by the tribe, tourists visiting the casino spent money at other nearby businesses. Wages from employees churning through the local economy also helped bolster county coffers.
The County’s nearby fire station should receive a ladder truck and staffing for the equipment to be located about a mile away from the resort. The tribe’s lawyer said he would get back to county supervisors with a timeline for negotiating details of that condition which will cost the tribe about $1 million more in capital outlay before staffing for the truck is factored in. The County notes that their previous agreement was struck before the hotel had risen to its current height.