Chukchansi Casino Update Evacuated Gamblers Claim They’re Owed Money
Two warring factions of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians have been embroiled in a dispute over the management of the Chukchansi Gold Casino in Coarsegold, California for nearly a month. Amidst an armed confrontation between the two sides, patrons of the casino who were forced to evacuate the building, have made claims that the casino still owes them money.
Carrie West, who was at the casino on the night of the armed confrontation, speaking to a local California news station, “It was a madhouse, actually. People were coming up and saying, ‘You need to evacuate right now’” said West on the night of the incident.
Nearly a month later, the Wests, who were playing at the casino at the time of the incident have claimed that they were forced to evacuate, leaving hundreds of dollars in chips behind on the tables after police came into the casino and told them to leave the building for their own safety.
“It’s pretty frustrating because if you are going to run a business you need to do it the proper and legal way, and I don’t think taking money from people and keeping it is proper,” said West, speaking about the warring factions.
A California Judge, at the behest of the National Indian Gaming Commission, has ordered that the casino remain shut until such a time as the conflict between the warring factions as well as the dispute over the management of the casino, has been settled.
The Chukchansi Gold Casino has a notice on its website saying: “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience that you may have experienced. Please be assured that we will honour payments for all TITO tickets and gaming chips. During the period of time we are closed, any deposits for rooms or events will be refunded. We are working towards a solution to resolve all disputes”.
A spokesperson for the Reggie Lewis faction, Roger Salazar, has said that there is no set date for the reopening of the casino because of the Federal Judge’s ruling. “If it weren’t for the fact that there was an armed intrusion none of this would happen either. The fact of the matter is our hands are tied and we are limited in what we can do given the federal and state orders”.
However the opposing faction, led by Tex McDonald, has said that the armed men were trying to grab missing audits to hand over to the National Indian Gaming Commission, which had made threats to shut the casino down after they had failed to supply the appropriate paperwork on time. They have also made claims that, under their leadership, things in the casino would be done differently.
Speaking about the missing funds, “The money left there is symbolic of misappropriation of funds that were in the casino. Where in the world is $50 million?” said Monica Davis, the co-chairperson of the McDonald’s faction.
Staff of the casino have said that anyone with vouchers or chips can expect their money back when the casino can reopen. They’ll need to first review the security footage before they can make any final decisions regarding the return of the money.
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