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Tohono O'odham Nation celebrates start of work on $400 million permanent casino

Friday, December 8, 2017
The Tohono O'odham Nation broke ground on a permanent home for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort in Glendale, Arizona, on December 1, 2017. Photo: WestValleyOpportunity
The Tohono O'odham Nation is celebrating another major gaming milestone.

The tribe broke ground last Friday on a $400 million permanent home for the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort in Glendale, Arizona. The 75,000 square-foot facility is due to open in 24 months.

“This facility will provide jobs and economic opportunity for members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, the West Valley, and Arizona," Chairman Edward Manuel said in a press release. "The Nation is proud of the partnerships we have forged in the region, which will only strengthen and grow as we move forward.”

The ceremony capped off a nearly-decade long fight that sparked numerous rounds of litigation in the state and federal courts and costly lobbying battles in the nation's capital. Rival tribes and politicians, including a conservative Republican who just announced his resignation amid a sexual harassment investigation, tried to stop the project but were only able to delay it.

After beating back most of the challenges, the tribe debuted a temporary facility two years ago this month. But the state refused to certify the casino for Class III games like slot machines and card games and blocked the sale of liquor there.

Artist's rendering of the permanent Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort in Glendale, Arizona. Image: Tohono O'odham Nation

Those hurdles were finally cleared when the tribe and the state reached a settlement in May. Liquor started flowing in August and Class III games will be a permanent fixture of the new Desert Diamond.

The casino is located in Glendale, a suburb on the western side of Phoenix. The site was taken into trust pursuant to a land claim settlement that compensated the tribe for a reservation that had been flooded by the federal government.

The tribe is only the second in the history of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act to open a casino in connection with a land claim settlement. The other is the Wyandotte Nation, whose leaders also had to fight for their rights.

Read More on the Story:
Tohono O’odham breaks ground on $400M West Valley casino (The Peoria Times December 8, 2017)
$400 million Desert Diamond West Valley Casino breaks ground (AZ Big Media December 7, 2017) $P Federal Register Notice:
Indian Gaming; Approval of an Amendment to a Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact in the State of Arizona (July 17, 2017)

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