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George Lopez walkout prompts apology from central California casino: ‘Quite a shock’

A vertical portrait of George Lopez holding his hands with the palms together in front of his mouth
George Lopez is at odds with a central California casino after he walked out early during a Friday set.
(Aldo Chacon / For The Times)
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George Lopez and a central California casino have engaged in a war of words over a sold-out Friday show that resulted in a walkout by the comedian.

While the 63-year-old contends that the audience at the Eagle Mountain Casino was the problem, the venue has fired back at the Grammy-nominated comic and his security team, denying his claims and arguing that he “let down his fans” and the casino too. The Porterville establishment, which said it had been jilted by the comic last month after a medical emergency, has apologized to its patrons and again had to offer its 1,800 Lopez show attendees refunds and free tickets.

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The “Lopez vs. Lopez” star, who was already performing a rescheduled show at Eagle Mountain after a last-minute cancellation April 20, was reportedly heckled and departed his Friday set 30 minutes early. The comedian, through a spokesperson, said that the crowd was “overserved and unruly” and blamed the casino for not keeping its patrons in check.

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“It’s the venue or casino’s job to provide a good experience for both the artist and the fans, but the casino failed in this regard. The audience was overserved and unruly, and the casino staff was unable to provide a safe and enjoyable experience for the artist and guests,” a spokesperson for Lopez said Saturday in a statement to TMZ. (Lopez’s representative did not immediately respond Monday to The Times’ requests for comment.)

“George’s personal security team worked with the venue security staff to maintain order, ensure safety, and eject disruptive individuals. Unfortunately, the casino security team was not adequate to accomplish this task,” the spokesperson continued. “George is not obligated to perform in an unsafe environment. He feels badly that those who came to see the show were unable to do so as a result.”

However, the casino had a wholly different take on the events. The casino has had no contact with Lopez or his team since the walkout, a spokesperson said in a Monday statement to The Times, and believed that “the show was going well” and that there were no issues that the casino deemed “unruly or unsafe.”

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“We would have gladly ejected guests upon Mr. Lopez and his private security team’s request. We would have liked that opportunity especially since these paid guests showed up after the rescheduled show in April,” Eagle Mountain Casino spokesperson Joey Perez said.

In a Facebook post addressing the incident on Friday, the casino said that Lopez “let down his fans and sold out audience by walking out and ending his show 30 minutes early.”

“George hired his own private security that could have easily escorted any hecklers out,” the post said. “We had a pre show meeting to have a plan in place for hecklers. He could have provided us an opportunity to allow our security and team to escort any hecklers out since his own private security did not. George decided to not continue with the show and leave.”

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The casino — owned and operated by the Tule River Tribe — noted that it has been “patient” with Lopez after his medical emergency resulted in rescheduling his April 20 show, noting Friday that the casino “went above and beyond to provide George with first class service from his arrival to the property to the start of his show.”

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“We never want to let our guests down and we are as disappointed and shocked as you are,” said the post, which was met with several comments from patrons who aired their grievances in the post’s comments section.

“Thank you Eagle mountain casino for addressing this and not just chalking it up as ‘this is what he does’! Very thankful for your statement! I really think Mr Lopez needs to issue one also but I won’t hold my breath! He ruined a birthday present for my husband!!!!!!,” one person wrote.

“This is the 2nd time I’ve rearranged my schedule to see him and was completely let down,” another said. “Grew up watching him and was looking forward to the opportunity to see him live. Shame on the ‘probably’ drunk heckler but between his own security and emc security they should have had her escorted out. Walked out on a show that he was paid in full for. Smh. Definitely the last time I paid to see him. As for EMC ty for posting on behalf of those of us that were completely let down.”

“It was not like he had 100 people heckling him,” a third person wrote. “Maybe like 4. All it was was people yelling we love you and making references to old jokes. Nothing bad in my opinion happen tonight for George Lopez to walk out!!”

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“‘Can I buy you a drink’ is all she said to you,” another user tweeted in reply to a post from Lopez on X (formerly Twitter).

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In an official statement on Sunday, the casino formally apologized to its guests and said that it “can’t wait to make it up to you,” offering attendees full reimbursement and free tickets to any 2024 show at the venue. Eagle Mountain said that Lopez’s statement and exit “came as a shock to everyone,” including casino management.

“The claims of unruly guests are not consistent with casino footage and surveillance. Casino security and Lopez security team worked together to make sure there was no filming with phones as requested by Lopez. It was the job of Lopez private security team to inform casino security if they wanted to escort anyone out which never occurred. Under the casinos discretion no guests were unruly or providing an unsafe environment,” the statement said.

The casino said that once Lopez walked to his dressing room, neither he nor his team apologized to the casino team or guests nor explained why he didn’t want to continue. He left 15 minutes later and was transported back to Porterville airport by Eagle Mountain Casino transportation, the statement said.

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Eagle Mountain assistant general manager Tiffani Sahagun confirmed in the statement that guests were indeed “yelling out” during the show and cited recordings from the event showing audience members shouting “we love you, can we buy you a drink etc.”

“We also know that at a comedy show, there are also likely some outbursts that casino security would have been happy to address had any issue been made known,” Sahagun added. “We only want for our guests to have a safe and enjoyable experience, and we want our entertainers to feel safe and enjoy coming to Porterville as well.”

The casino said Lopez and his private security “had every opportunity to inform casino team if they wanted a guest escorted out and they did not.” It added that two comedians who opened for Lopez that night “did not have any concerns or issues, so this was quite a shock to everyone attending.”

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Lopez show attendees were also directed to fill out an online form to get a refund and select a different 2024 show to attend.

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