The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, a federally recognized tribe in California has had to deal with a number of legalities in trying to re-open its popular Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. The tribe’s gaming commission executive director and all three members of the gaming commission recently resigned.
The tribe has now enlisted the services of former National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) chief Phil Hogen to advise them on gaming regulatory issues so that they are confident of complying with all the necessary legalities for them to run a smooth operation. Hogen has an impressive record serving as President George W. Bush’s chairman of the NIGC between 2002 and 2009 and has built for himself a reputation of being an expert when it comes to gaming regulation.
The National Indian Gaming Commission issued a notice of violation and a temporary closure order for Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on the 10th of October 2014, after a rival faction of the tribe conducted a raid the previous day. One of the main reasons for the raid is said to be that the tribe had not filed its gaming audits as per schedule and was 18 months late on its 2012 audit and 6 months late on its 2013 audit. In addition to the NIGC action a federal judge, at the urging of the state’s Attorney General also issued a preliminary injunction.
Back in 2014, Hogen voiced his disapproval over the way the National Indian Gaming Commission handled the entire process stating that the commission had waited too long to take action and should have taken no longer than 180 days to follow protocol.
In a statement, Tribal Chairman Reggie Lewis said, “Hogen’s independent voice is exactly what we needed to get the casino operating again and generating revenue for the tribe and providing a world-class customer experience that brings jobs and economic activity to the region.”
Christian Goode, the COO for the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold believes there is a possibility that Hogen could also serve as a member of the Chukchansi tribe’s gaming commission. Hogen isn’t opposed to the idea of serving as a member of the gaming commission but is not keen on making a long term commitment as his immediate priority would be to use his knowledge and experience to help guide the tribe in the coming months and establish a robust system that allows a smooth casino operation to function at all times.
Hogen has accompanied Chukchansi tribal leaders to meet with federal officials in Washington, D.C to see how they can work out a solution to move forward.