A federal order closed the central California, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino last October, but with a $35 million deal with creditors close to fruition, the casino could be reopened as soon as Labor Day, but the tribe is still waiting for state and federal approval.
The casino located in Coarsegold, north of Fresno and 27 miles south of Yosemite National Park was closed after rival factions squared off during an Oct. 9 raid on a casino office where fifteen arrests were made. The closing displaced more than 1,000 workers, and the next day state and federal authorities had to step in to make the closure lasting, demanding that the operating tribe get its affairs in order first.
The body overseeing the casino, the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, through its own, Chukchansi Economic Development Authority (CEDA), entered into the deal with some of the tribe’s lenders that will allow it to raise $35 million, at a 12% interest rate, to reopen the facility. The tribe is now working alongside the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) and expects to finalize an agreement that will enable the facility to re-open.
Overseeing the reopening is Christian Goode, Chukchansi’s new chief operating officer. Goode, former president of Genting Americas, brings with him more than twenty years of experience overseeing and creating for the best in gaming facilities in the United States. Ivory Gaming, Goode’s latest venture in partnership with Bradley Tusk, an investment and political strategist out of New York, is a casino management company. According to a company spokesman from Genting, Goode’s departure was spur of the moment and never formally announced, but “amicable.”
The Coarsegold casino consists of a 56,000 square foot gambling space and a 400 room hotel, The casino operates approximately 1,700 gaming units out of the 2,000 slot machines it was licensed for, with 40 table games and also has a spa and seven restaurants. About 400 of the casino’s gaming machines that were leased are gone, but Goode said the leasing companies are eager to get those machines back into operation, and in addition the casino has a sufficient number of gaming chips to begin operations. According to Goode, the resort that attracts visitors from the San Francisco Bay area will take three to four weeks from the first day work can start to get the gaming machines up and running.
California has 68 casinos that brought in $7 billion in gaming revenue in fiscal 2014, one-fourth of the overall total, making California the nation’s largest Indian gaming state.