Casino going up at Twin Arrows

2012-07-04T09:10:00Z Casino going up at Twin ArrowsCYNDY COLE Sun Staff Reporter Arizona Daily Sun
July 04, 2012 9:10 am  • 

A $175 million casino and hotel complex is going up on the Navajo Nation near Twin Arrows about 20 miles east of Flagstaff.

The tribe now proposes to open this fourth tribal casino in May 2013, and to hire some 800 employees (mostly Dineh) to operate it.

The Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, near Interstate 40, will have nearly 1,100 slot machines, blackjack and poker tables, 200 hotel rooms by winter of 2013-2014, a gift shop selling mostly low-price items, a food court, a sports bar, and ultimately a spa area.

Longer-term plans include parking areas and amenities for high-end motorhomes, a nightclub, a conference center, and a spa with steam rooms, massages and hot tubs.

Total revenues are anticipated to be slightly less than $100 million annually, but that is a rough estimate, said Derrick Watchman, chief financial officer for the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise and a former banking executive.

The enterprise runs the casinos and recently sent $5 million in net revenues to the Navajo Nation government for its use.

Watchman hopes to make that $30 million, altogether, in addition to $2.5 million sent to the state annually from a gaming system projected to employ 1,500 across all Navajo casinos.

Employees in the Navajo casinos typically earn $24,000, have full benefits, and have the option of employer-paid education.

"It's a pretty decent wage, I think, for the area, for what we're doing," Watchman said.

Watchman and another longtime gaming administrator spoke Monday afternoon at a forum organized by Coconino County Supervisor Mandy Metzger at a restaurant on Townsend-Winona Road east of Flagstaff.

"It's been exciting in terms of economic development and employment," to watch the casino proceed, Metzger said.

More than 30 people attended and asked questions about jobs, distribution of proceeds, transportation to the casino and site-specific questions. Some came from as far as Chinle.

Audience questions about which fire department and law enforcement agencies would cover the casino area were not totally resolved.

The casino plans to serve liquor, but there's a three-drink limit, and alcohol will only be served in food-serving areas (a food court, a restaurant -- not on the floor of casino).

"We're planning on a very upscale steakhouse," Watchman said.

The conference center is intended, in part, to capture business from the Navajo Nation government, which often travels elsewhere to find large meeting space.

Workers will travel from afar, to start.

The casino is expected to draw tourists and outside visitors, not Dineh residents.

Watchman said he did not know how much water the casino would use, but that it would be supplied from four wells in the area.

The hotel would go through a certification system to show it was built with conservation in mind.

"We will show that we're trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible," Watchman told the audience.

Bernice Carver's husband died of lung cancer, and she has been one of the strongest proponents of smoke-free policies in Coconino County.

"Are the employees going to be having a smoke-free workplace?" she asked.

Not unless other casinos do the same, Watchman responded.

People had dismissed this casino earlier, he told the audience.

"A year ago, people were saying, 'It's not going to happen.' Six months ago, people were saying, 'It's not going to happen,'" he said. "Now they're saying: 'It's going to happen -- how can we get involved?'"

Cyndy Cole can be reached at ccole@azdailysun.com or at 913-8607.

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(8) Comments

  1. Velpoem
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    Velpoem - October 30, 2012 2:45 pm
    I got my people's back, i would love to be employed at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino.
  2. JWDH
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    JWDH - July 05, 2012 7:09 am
    The water "Fromthemiddle" will come from the ground....hehehe. If the indians manage this project it will lose money.
  3. KMK123
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    KMK123 - July 04, 2012 5:50 pm
    I'm interested to see who is going to be their Law Enforcement. Since they don't know... I don't know how they wouldn't know. If it's on the Navajo Reservation wouldn't it have to be the Navajo Police...?? Being that they are a sovereign nation and all. Same thing with the fire dept... how do they not know. . .??
  4. nativeladee80
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    nativeladee80 - July 04, 2012 4:34 pm
    Don't forget the drunks who will be leaving the establishments where will they be turned to the desert? I tell you a build for disaster!
  5. nativeladee80
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    nativeladee80 - July 04, 2012 4:32 pm
    Jobs? I don't think it helps the tribes not at all. I see mostly little towns with not much city life only the tribal members are donating or giving in their money. Besides most of the revenue goes to the State for parks, recreations, and other state programs. Water I think with landscaping(waste) sure they will find a way from colorado river to help the establishment. Waste and Unnecessary spending. Tribal communities in a city they make the bucks not small little towns!
  6. DanFrazier
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    DanFrazier - July 04, 2012 2:03 pm
    Re: "Casino going up at Twin Arrows": There is one good thing about this project: The Navajo people will finally have an opportunity to rob the white men and women of a little bit of what white people stole from Native Americans. Maybe the pay-outs should be in the form of plastic beads or disease infected blankets, just to underscore the injustice that has been done to Native Americans over the years. Spend a fortune, go home with plastic beads or a blanket. And pray for better luck next time.
  7. KayGirl
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    KayGirl - July 04, 2012 10:01 am
    I'm not Navajo but is this project really in the best interest of the Navajo people? Somehow gambling as economic development seems like it might bring more problems that it solves. Works will travel from "afar" for $24K? They don't know how much water they will need or use. Looks like the project will create a heat island within an already hot desert. Enforcing the 3 drink limit? Employee exposure to lots of smoking?
  8. Fromthemiddle
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    Fromthemiddle - July 04, 2012 9:30 am
    I love the fact this project will create a lot of jobs and tax revenue, but since it's inception I have always been curious where the water would come from. Could someone comment on this to assist me?
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