The Chumash Casino

Paul Wellman

The Chumash Casino

Chumash Want More Gamblers and Guests

Originally published 3:30 p.m., March 27, 2014
Updated 12:00 p.m., April 3, 2014
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If plans presented by Chumash leadership to the Board of Supervisors late last month bear fruit, the tribe’s casino-resort could one day nearly triple in capacity. Tribal chairman Vincent Armenta wrote that 215 hotel rooms (in addition the the existing 106), 60,000 square feet of gaming space (in addition to the current 280,000 square feet), a 750-car parking garage (along with some of the 1,070 existing spots), and a potential buffet and food court are the “improvement projects” the tribe is considering adding to its reservation.

According to the tribe’s government affairs officer, Sam Cohen, the casino addition would move the third-floor poker room and non-smoking area to the second floor and open the third floor to dining. The plans don’t include requests for more gaming devices, as the tribe’s compact with the state — up for renewal in 2020 — doesn’t permit more than the current 2,000 machines. Several scenarios exist for the extra parking and hotel rooms, Cohen said. The 750-car garage could go at the southern edge of the resort, and the rooms could takeover the current valet parking area. Cohen said the plans are preliminary but that the tribe is in the process of looking for an architect.

As required by the compact, the plans will be subject to an environmental analysis and public meetings with neighbors and county officials. Cohen said that the plans are “unrelated” to the tribe’s desires to bring the 1,400-acre Camp 4 property into trust; that process was introduced in a federal congressional bill last October after the supervisors voted against annexation.

The plans have left 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr confused as to how the tribe can simultaneously expand yet claim they need Camp 4 for housing. “It doesn’t follow,” Farr said. “No matter who was going to propose a development or expansion of this size, it would raise a lot of concerns,” she said. “If it would move forward the way they are initially envisioning, it would have an enormous impact on the Valley.”

Armenta ended his letter by saying that when the hotel was built in 2004, it was “dramatically downsized” and that the tribe “did ourselves a disservice by building a hotel much smaller than the market dictated.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Are gamblers and guests really what they want, or is it $omething more basic?

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 4:10 p.m. (Suggest removal)

don't we have enough twacked out gamblers causing accidents on the 154 already?

StockiestCastle (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 5:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The business of business is to expand and make more money.

mgreg (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 5:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Fools and their money.....;..

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Interesting how an indiginous people who have always preached peace, harmony with nature, and tranquility suddenly do a complete about-face when lots of $$$ is involved. The Chumash descendants are the most hypocritical group of greed-merchants in the county. Their ancestors must be spinning in their graves.

RexOfSB (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 5:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Rex: It's human nature. When people come into lots of $$$, they generally want more. I remember Donald Trump getting into a big battle with an old lady in New York Ciy because she refused to be thrown out of her apartment where she'd lived most of her life per his plans to rebuild the place to accomadate his increasing empire. Amazingly, she prevailed.

Bernie Madoff is another example of someone who had it all, but wanted even more. This is another example of what the Occupy Wall Street folks refer to when they speak of the 1% profiting at the expense of the 99%. It doesn't matter if we speak of the actions of capitalists, communists, or socialists, the issue is that human nature is corrupt, The Beast lives within all of us, and many people when they get to the top can't control that beast and Armenta and Company are no exception.

While I pity those who are long time residents who have to deal with the fallout of the ever-increasing juggernaut of greed of Armenta and his cronies, I cannot help but to feel a certain sense of Schadenfreude about all this as the high-profile people in the Santa Ynez Valley who are screaming the loudest are the same ones who sold the place out to the booze (wine) industry.

Either way, the Santa Ynez Valley is now a depository for drunks and gamblers, and I feel lucky that I was able to live there just before they took over. Seeing that these powers-that-be have won, and are simply battling it out among themselves in a turf war of vices, I've thrown in the towel, am selling my house, and getting out. (Admittedly the main reason is economic but I certainly won't miss the hypocritical politics of the place)

So in the words of the 70's British rock band Ten Years After, I leave with this message: "I'd love to change the world, but I don't know what to do, so I'll leave it up to you".

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 7:21 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They already own a hotel in Solvang and businesses throughout the valley. This seems a preemptive step towards pointing out how they need to expand the reservation to Camp 4.

at_large (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 9:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

They should give meth away then, that will bring them in and keep them there.

AZ2SB (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2014 at 9:19 p.m. (Suggest removal)

If they really want more guests and gamblers, they should try two things that might help. Adopt a no smoking policy in the casino and increase the percentage they payout to gamblers.

buckwheat (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 8:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If they increase the payout to gamblers, then they'd 'need' to build even more prison-look-alike casinos.

To save the SY Valley, we need to expand the presence of casinos beyond simply Indian gambling, with proceeds going to schools and infrastructure.

at_large (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 8:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

If the local Chumash were destitute and living off food stamps, people would chide them as lazy & undeserving. Now they're successful capitalists and people are still complaining.

Damned either way by the peanut gallery.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 8:44 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Successful capitalists, that's rich. Let me open a casino on my property and we'll see how I do.

Their success is based only on what they can legally do on their property that no one else can legally do. It's not hard to be successful when there will obviously be no legal local competition.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 9:34 a.m. (Suggest removal)

" was “dramatically downsized” due to the tribal environmental review process." Well, the environment is in more trouble now than it was in 2004 with too many people; too much vehicle traffic (with special thanks to the Chumash along with the wineries); and not enough water to go around. Current consumption levels are not sustainable, and the situation becomes catastrophic if the climate gets dryer. Adding more water consumers is regional suicide. Where did that much-hyped Native American eco-consciousness go, or the respect for the earth attributed to these guys' ancestors? What besides capitalist greed by an extended-family corporation could rationalize up-scaling this casino, in this place, to mini-Vegas proportions? If the reconstituted tribe gets their way yet again, the Camp 4 land won't become shareholder housing, a bingo hall, and/or the Chumash, Inc. golf course; it will just be overflow parking lot #5.

anemonefish (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 10:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The only reason that the Chumash have the ability to fleece the white man, is because the state outlaws gambling. Legalize it and there is no argument here...

JoeSixPack (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at noon (Suggest removal)

Evil and greed dwell there. I too was drawn into the casino after winning a large sum of money, then over the course of 12 months giving it all back plus! I vowed to never set foot in that establishment ever again, finally realizing that all the "comps" were nothing more than enticements to get me back in to lose more. So many have lost everything to this evil place; homes, families, jobs, feeding that addiction.

Even the "good" that the tribe does in the greater community, is nothing more than a smokescreen to improve their position in the eyes of the residents of the county. Keep in mind that each tribe member gets a "stipend" of over $50,000 a month, yes a month. All their donations and tribal member stipends are at the expense of the vast majority of gamblers who leave there as losers.

SBLover35 (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 8:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

JoeSixPack for the win. I also wonder this: If that piece of land is a sovereign nation, can they legalize marijuana there? Can you imagine the fits it would give the Preservation For Los Olivos? I'm not saying the Chumash SHOULD legalize marijuana, and I wouldn't want the Moral Crusaders of POLO to get upset, but I'm just asking the question.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 10:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

...I mean...IF the Chumash were to open a...marijuana dispensary...just sayin'.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 10:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Why should they bother? If they open a marijuana dispensary, they would actually have to compete with local business people. Their current casino operation has no legal local competition.

Statewide legalized casino gambling would be the death knell for the Chumash casino.

Botany (anonymous profile)
March 28, 2014 at 10:56 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I've been to the casino once when I went to see a show there. What a depressing, grim place! None of the fun party atmosphere of a Vegas casino. Just a bunch of frowning, chain smoking people sitting around feeding slot machines money. I overheard some City College guys talking about what they do on the weekends. They're too young to get into nightclubs so they hang out at the Chumash Casino and Spearmint Rhino. Good times.

Ryansbca (anonymous profile)
March 29, 2014 at 11:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The folks that have been able to get themselves designated as descendants of the Native American Chumash only want the reservation to preserve their historic culture - like casino gambling, luxury hotel-keeping and so on.

Why are you all so critical of their attempts to just preserve their traditional way of life and preservation of the land?

art (anonymous profile)
March 31, 2014 at 9:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow - when a White billionaire, $ made through gambling, has politicians seeking the Presidency, scampering to Las Vegas to get some of that dough ......

tabatha (anonymous profile)
March 31, 2014 at 9:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Corruption? Greed? Sounds like we're talking about The Vatican Bank or for that matter any American banking institute. Perhaps the tribe members are following in the footsteps of their conquerors. I think the Chumash were smart to build such an ugly prison-like building at the entrance of the valley, it will keep the white man away.

VioletFlame (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2014 at 11:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Vincent Armenta wrote in this paper, 8/19/2013 about the Tribe's intense need for housing as the reason to annex Camp 4 and use it for tribal members: "When our tribe purchased Camp 4 in 2010, one of the primary goals was to build housing for tribal members and their families. Currently, only about 17 percent of our tribal members and lineal descendants live on our reservation."
HOWEVER, now they want to expand their existing casino on the Rez itself, after being denied annexation of Camp 4! I agree with Sup. Farr that we're now "confused as to how the tribe can simultaneously expand yet claim they need Camp 4 for housing." Let's her about expanded housing on the Rez, not expanding the gross casino. I support the Chumash whole-heartedly, but their leadership speaks with forked tongues. C'mon Sam, c'mon Vincent, get a little honest here and quit BS'ing. How can we trust anything you say?

DrDan (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2014 at 12:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The underlying message is that the only way to make $$$ in the valley is through hawking booze and gambling.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
April 9, 2014 at 3:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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