COARSEGOLD, Calif (KFSN) --The Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino is officially celebrated its grand re-opening Friday. After a tough year, the hotel is finally booked again for the weekend and hundreds of people are back to work.
It's a big day at Chukchansi-- the restaurants, the spa, and the hotel are all open. For the workers, it's a relief, it's hope and for the people, it's been a long wait.
For Laura Garcia, the gift shop is a familiar place. It's where she worked before Chukchansi closed and she came back after a year of unemployment. "Times were hard but I'm glad to be back and to be able to provide for my family again."
Times were tough for a lot of people in the tribe and the community. Andrew Padilla is a minister at a church nearby and many of his parishioners work here. "When they closed, they lost their jobs, they were hurting financially and we really had to do what we could to help them."
It was a struggle that lasted nearly 15 months after violence and a dispute split the tribe. Since then, a new tribal council has regained control, deals were made to re-open and a lot of work had to be done to get the hotel and casino back to where it was. "Had a singular focus of getting this open so they could provide the economic benefits for the community and for their people, and today is a culmination of that hard work," said Christian Goode, Chief Operations Officer.
Pastor Padilla said it has restored hope in the hills and he has already witnessed change at his church. "I noticed it from seeing the children, their kids, they smiled because their parents were smiling again."
He said it's brighter than the lights inside the casino-- and for Garcia back at the gift shop, it's home. "You're more at relief and at ease of what tomorrow brings."
The casino is also giving things away Friday to celebrate. $25,000 in cash and you can also take home a truck just by showing up to play.