A Ripple Effect: Brown’s looming decision on Hwy 99 casino
For the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians, September 1 could be doomsday.
The fate of the Coarsegold-based tribe rests in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown, who will decide if a North Fork tribe will be able to open a casino off of tribal land near Highway 99 in Madera.
The U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the construction of the casino last September. Under federal law, Brown holds a veto power to stop the casino in its tracks.
Chukchansi’s lobbying fight against the Madera-based North Fork tribe-owned casino is reasonably quite large. If Chukchansi loses this battle, the tribe’s solvency may befall a similarly grim fate.
For the sake of a number of local vendors and organizations that rely on Chukchansi’s large spending and donations to stay afloat, the Highway 99 casino must fail.
Earlier in July, Chukchansi restructured hundreds of millions of dollars of its debt that it compiled by building Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino off of Highway 41 in Coarsegold. While the tribe was able to pay off some of its former debts in it’s restructured financing plan, there is still about a quarter-billion dollars remaining to be paid off.
And while the tribe is entering feet-first into the payday loans business, the Chukchansi tribe will need to rely more upon casino revenue, which has been down in recent years and would slump even further if a rival casino were built in a considerably better location.
Chukchansi itself is making some serious bets by browbeating local businesses that it transacts with to support the cause or expect nothing in the future. If Chukchansi loses out on the Highway 99 casino, it likely won’t matter after revenue shrivels up. If they win, the businesses that don’t get in line will be out one very large customer, to say the least.