The Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Coursegold in Northern California has been closed since October 9, 2014. It was closed by discord within the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, and despite recent tribal elections, the discord remains the main factor in delaying the reopening of the casino.
The closure resulted from an armed incursion by 15 men led by the head of one of the factions. About 500 employees and patrons had to be evacuated as a result. Because of fears for safety of casino customers, the state and federal governments ordered the casino closed. It has remained closed.
Leading up to the closure of the casino, several factions claimed to be the legitimate tribal authority. One group of 46 members claims to be the only true descendants of the tribe that, according to the federal government, has 900 members on the rolls. Membership, and who is an actual member, has been one of the main points of contention among the tribal members.
In October, the tribe held elections, but once again, all factions did not recognize the results due to the fact that members deemed non-members by some were allowed to vote. The election was upheld by Indian Dispute Resolution Services after it reviewed appeals filed by four candidates.
One of the first goals for the council is to get the casino reopened. To do so, however, they must gain the approval of the National Indian Gaming Commission, which issued a statement.
“Our priority is to ensure the facility reopens under circumstances that protect the safety of patrons, employees and tribal members, and so that the issues which led to the closure in the first place are not repeated,” said NIGC spokesman Mike Odle. “From our standpoint, there is no time frame as to when this will occur.”