Booze will be sold on the Chumash Casino gambling floor and only patrons 21 and older will be let in as part of a temporary permit granted by the state’s Department of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC). The change — 18-year-olds were previously allowed on the floor — enables the casino to serve alcohol in areas of the casino with a number of conditions, including no alcohol between 1 a.m. and 9 a.m.
The permit lasts 120 days and can be renewed indefinitely until an ABC judge makes the final decision, which can be appealed. Sheriff Bill Brown and 3rd District Supervisor Doreen Farr have protested the decision. Brown plans to voice his objections during the appeal’s hearing, which has not yet been scheduled. “Our concern is for public safety and the risk of impaired drivers leaving the casino and driving on Highway 246 and 154,” Kelly Hoover, who is the Sheriff’s spokesperson, said. “The expansion to include the gaming floor greatly increases the risk to public safety due to intoxicated drivers.”
In the past, alcohol was served only in the casino’s restaurant and hotel, and during special events in the showroom. Tribal chair Vincent Armenta said alcohol would only be available in areas where it can be enforced. “We have proven that our resort can operate in a responsible way when serving alcohol, and we will continue to do so under these new guidelines,” he said. The Santa Ynez Valley bus stops at the casino and there are shuttle services to hotels in Solvang.
Recently, the Chumash brought on Holly Gagnon, who previously worked for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, to be their new CEO. According to the tribe, the Chumash Casino Resort gaming operations generated about $275 million in economic impact last year.