Found in the Santa Ynez reservation, the Chumash Casino Resort belongs to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. In 2014, they announced they would start the Chumash Casino construction which would involve expansion of the casino floor and the hotel found within the resort. At the time, the gaming floor was 94,000 square feet in size, and the hotel was 106 rooms strong.
Despite many expressing their concerns about the possible negative effects this expansion could bring to the reservation, the tribe went on with the planned construction once they received approval. Now (since 2016, to be exact), just five miles away from Solvang, CA, you can find a luxurious casino resort with a hotel tower which provides you a true Las Vegas experience. Initial estimations said that the cost of the expansion would be around $100 million. Let’s take a look at how the construction was carried through.
Objection From the Local Community
When they announced their plans in 2014, leaders of the Chumash Tribe in charge of the casino had to fight away objection from other members of the reservation. The attorney general’s office voiced its concerns over the building of a modern, urban-style casino resort right in the heart of a rural, agricultural area. They found it to be completely out of place and the only motivation for it was clearly gathering profit for individuals, rather than the prosperity of the community. Quite odd for a casino to do that, cynics would say.
The construction included a new hotel which almost tripled in size and a significant expansion of the gaming floor. Moreover, they added many other amenities to the resort. Attorney General Kamala D. Harris claimed that the tribe didn’t entertain any possible alternatives to the expansion. She added that the carrying out of it would endanger water supplies of the community, as well as affect law enforcement and environment supplies. This came as criticism on top of the negative visual impact of the hotel tower.
However, Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman, denied all these allegations calling them over-the-top and simply untrue. Armenta claimed the casino, due to conservation efforts, had a significantly lower water consumption than they did ten years ago. He also added that the tribe had offered multiple times financial aid to fire and law enforcement, but officials rejected it every time. Said officials claimed the offers were inadequate.
Problems in the Past
The expansion wasn’t the first time the tribe and other members of the local Santa Ynez Valley community locked horns. They accused the Chumash tribe of trying to expand outside of its jurisdiction and effectively annex territory that didn’t belong to its reservation. The tribe bought 1,400 acres of land in 2010, which is about two miles away from the reservation. Their plan is to build around 150 houses for the members of the tribe and their descendants. In the eyes of the opposition, this is an illegal expansion of the reservation borders.
The question of this property, named Camp 4, is currently being handled by the Congress. If successful, the tribe would have the same jurisdiction as they do in their reservation.
The year 2016 saw the completion of the expansion, which ended up costing $165 million. The gaming floor went from 94,000 square feet to whopping 190,000 square feet. Now, the casino houses 2,300 slot machines and 45 table games. The Chumash Casino poker room (open 24/7) has 12 poker tables. There’s also a bingo hall, and they organize daily tournaments. What’s more, they have a high-roller room called High Limits. There, you can enjoy the privacy and exclusivity with a dedicated cashier, high-rolling table games, and slots.
The newly-shaped resort includes six dining options. For instance, you can sit and enjoy high-end dishes in a four-diamond restaurant Willows. Other food & drink amenities include a cafe, buffet, Food Court, and Grains and Grounds, where you can get a Starbucks coffee and enjoy some desserts.
The disputed hotel tower is a dozen stories high and has brought the number of the casino’s hotel rooms from 106 to 320. Furthermore, the number of luxury suites rose from 15 to 58. On top of the tower, there’s a rooftop pool which provides you with a grand view.
Finally, the resort received a five-story garage which contains 584 parking spaces. Armenta claimed that the expansion created 250 permanent jobs for the locals.