In a dramatic standoff Oct. 9, one faction claiming leadership of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians forcibly entered the Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino. They allegedly carried guns and Tasers and fought with security guards. Someone pulled a fire alarm, and about 500 patrons in the middle of gambling were ordered to exit without cashing out their winnings.
Attorney General Kamala Harris filed a complaint that the intra-tribal dispute was threatening public health, safety and welfare. Federal judge Lawrence O’Neill temporarily closed the casino following last week’s standoff, and he's scheduled to consider the fate of the casino at a hearing in Fresno today.
Tensions between rival factions of the Chukchansi tribe have been brewing for at least three years. Things escalated once the National Indian Gaming Commission threatened fines for long-overdue audits of the casino earlier this month.
But some critics say the federal government waited too long to intervene.