The Tohono O’odham Nation is finally nearing the completion of the Desert Diamond Casino construction. This has been a dream of theirs for quite some time, with the tribe first announcing their plans for the West Valley casino ten years ago. Namely, Edward Manuel, chairman of the Tohono Nation, together with other members of the Tohono tribe, had to go over many obstacles to get the ball running.

When they first talked about opening Desert Diamond West Valley Casino back in 2009 (they presented it as a Class III casino), they had problems getting approvals from the local community of other tribes. The officials of nearby cities of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona were also against the tribe’s efforts of building the casino.

However, after years of lawsuits and legal issues, they finally reached the agreement and received the approval of said cities. The construction began in December 2017, when 300 people attended the celebration. At the time, Manuel said that the issues they faced and solved together brought the local community together. Interestingly, this will be their fourth casino in Arizona, as the tribe currently has casinos in Sahuarita, Tucson, and Why.

Land Ownership

The Tohono tribe hasn’t always been the owner of the land they will build the casino on. Namely, their original territory suffered a lot during the country’s construction of the Painted Rock Dam. The lands were getting flooded all the time, with the water ruining their crops. As compensation, Congress allowed them to buy unclaimed land, which resulted in the Nation acquiring the 135 acres near Glendale in 2003. After facing and winning over 20 lawsuits since 2009, they finally started constructing the casino.

New Casino

In 2015, they brought up an interim casino which was there for people to gamble while the construction was taking place. The current facilities employ about 600 people. Once the construction finishes and the full-scale casino opens, they will turn the temporary casino into a warehouse. CEO of the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise (TOGE), Rudy Prieto, said he was delighted with how things were developing and was pleased with the speed of the construction. It is being carried out as a joint venture of Penta and AECOM Hunt.

The new $400-million facility will have a 75,000-square-foot casino floor, which they intend to fill out with slot machines, poker and blackjack tables, and other table games. They will also offer live bingo and will organize tournaments. While we don’t know the exact number of slot machines they will facilitate, we expect the casino to have 25 poker tables and 50 table games. The bingo hall will be able to house 1,000 people.

Apart from the casino itself, there will be five restaurants and dining options for you to grab a meal in, as well as a hotel and a spa center for the visitors. However, according to Prieto, they won’t work on the hotel and spa until they complete the gaming floor and allow the guests to enjoy the new Class III casino in Arizona. With this in mind, the construction on the rest of the resort will start sometime in 2020, as they scheduled the opening for February next year.

Allegedly, the hotel will have 600 rooms, including 120 suites. The parking garage will have valet service and 750 spaces, while there will be additional 3,000 spaces as surface parking.

Beyond Phase Two

With the fully-built casino, the Desert Diamond Casinos Entertainment (an enterprise of the Tohono tribe) plans to employ around 1,600 people. The resort as a whole will stretch over one million square feet and will provide permanent job opportunities to over 3,000 employees. Once complete, the tribe is confident its new casino will complement the rest of the area’s tourist attractions nicely. They will be close to Peoria’s P83 Entertainment District and Glendale’s Westgate Entertainment District, which offer similar entertainment and sports attractions. 

If you visit their official website, you will be able to track the development of the construction. Namely, they have set up three cameras in different angles to cover the whole construction site. You can find still images on the website, which they regularly update every ten minutes.

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