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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Criminal Justice Quote: The Native American Casino War

     A federal judge closed a central California casino after an armed showdown between tribal factions caused many gamblers to flee with chips left on the tables. U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill, acting on an emergency request by the state attorney general, set no date for the possible reopening of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino in Coarsegold 40 miles north of Fresno…The National Indian Gaming Commission also ordered the casino closed, declaring a threat to public safety that could result in serious injury or death.

     A faction that was forced out of the casino to a nearby tribal business center in August 2014 returned Thursday night October 9, 2014. According to the gaming commission, each faction controlled different parts of the casino…Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said about 500 people fled the casino. He said he worried for weeks about escalating tensions and had asked state and federal officials for help.

     The sheriff's department negotiated with about 20 armed tribal members after the casino cleared…There were no arrests, and no one was injured seriously enough to be hospitalized. "When they move the war into the casino, it meant we had to stop this. We have not been getting closer to a solution. If anything, we have gotten father away."

     The casino and hotel were guarded by sheriff's deputies…Vernon king, treasurer for the tribal council led by the faction that was ousted from the casino, said his group wanted to recover audit information and avoid a shutdown later this month. The casino, he said, employs 1,000 to 1,500 people and provides an average of around $450 a month to each of the 900 tribal members.

     Rob Rosette, a lawyer for the group that has controlled the casino since August 2014, said the other faction refused offers to negotiate for several months. Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler said the economic impact of the hotel and casino closure will be devastating. Still, he said he was more concerned about the potential for violence and that he had urged authorities to close the casino immediately.

"California Casino Is Closed After Armed Standoff," ABC News, October 10, 2014 

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