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article imageChukchansi casino shut down as tribal leaders resort to force

By Simon Crompton     Oct 12, 2014 in Politics
After an armed altercation on Thursday forced the closure of the Chukchansi casino in Coarsegold, Calif. members of both factions remain holed up in the casino. The armed confrontation resulted in no serious injuries and no arrests have been made.
On Thursday, armed members of the McDonald faction entered the casino and took control over the gambling areas on the bottom floors. A fire alarm was pulled and the guests evacuated the premises. The Lewis/Nancy Ayala faction remained on the 11th floor of the hotel.
Friday afternoon, a federal judge ordered the casino closed, but the two factions remained in the building. Madera County deputies are guarding the resort and ensuring that it remains closed.
No one has control of the casino,” said Madera County Sheriff John Anderson to the Fresno Bee. “The casino is closed to both.”
The court order prohibits either of the factions from operating or opening the casino until a court hearing can sort through the accusations. The next court hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
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The Lewis/Nancy Ayala faction has been in control of the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, but the National Indian Gaming Commission said they would close the casino and hotel if required audits and financial documents weren’t turned over to the agency. The McDonald faction has said they entered the casino searching for the required documents. This led to the armed confrontation with security guards employed by the Ayala faction.
Closing the casino will cause hardship for the 1,100 employees of the resort as well as for the members of Chukchansi tribe. The casino is the largest employer in Madera County and all members of the tribe receive money from the casino.
An employee of the casino said, “It’s sad the tribal members that are fighting can’t get to the root of the cause, find common ground and move forward … If they are not able to let their egos go, it’s not just them and their tribe that they are hurting, it’s everybody that works there. It’s pathetic.”
Both factions have assured guests that chips and money would be returned to them after the crisis and that people who had made reservations would receive refunds.
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