After years of negotiation, the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians reaches an agreement with the state to expand the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in California.
Chukchansi Indians Sign a New 25-Year Gaming Compact
On Thursday, the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians has finally signed a new state gaming compact, allowing the expansion of its Coarsegold casino and protection of the casino patrons and employees. The negotiations took several years to finally reach a conclusion.
The compact was sent for ratification by California Gov. Gavin Newsom to the Legislature. Now, it must receive approval from the secretary of the US Department of the Interior.
Chukchansi Tribe Increases Sheriff and Fire Protection Services
The new compact deal comes a month after the tribe signed an agreement with Madera County, increasing sheriff and fire protection services for its lands, including the casino and the surrounding community. The tribe would additionally pay for more services and allow cannabis into its economic strategy.
According to tribal chairwoman Claudia Gonzales, throughout the negotiations, the Tribal Council worked tirelessly to protect its sovereignty. This new compact deal would provide the expansion of its gaming business. The negotiations took years, but the tribe reached an agreement, ensuring that Chukchansi Gold would remain the premier resort in the area.
Gaming Compact Deal Expansion Includes 2,000 Job Openings
Now, Chukchansi Gold, which operates 24 hours a day, has 2,000 slot machines, 40 table games. It includes seven restaurants, 400 hotel rooms and a spa and salon. The 25-year agreement would allow Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino to operate 3,500 gaming devices, almost double the current limit. It includes new terms supporting non-gaming tribes and tribes with smaller gaming venues without disturbing the sovereignty of the tribe. This fall, the casino will also open a new conference center for hosting events.
Currently, the casino has 1,500 employees, including members from the community who are unionized and have a collective bargain contract. To protect its workers, the compact has a tribal labor relations ordinance.
CEDA Reduced Debt, Strengthening the Economy of the Community
In May of last year, the Chukchansi Economic Development Authority (CEDA), the operator of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, entered an agreement to settle litigation and restructure CEDA’s debt. Then, 94% of the senior noteholders approved the agreement. The reduction of the debt included unpaid interest of at least $125 million and Gonzales said that the debt reduction would help strengthen the tribal economy.
Before the settlement, in March, the CEDA and the casino management announced the property’s temporary closure due to the pandemic. The casino opened doors again on June 1, 2020. As of June 16 of this year, the casino is operating at maximum capacity, but it works in compliance with the established health and safety rules.