Santan Mountain Casino In Chandler Plans June 30 Opening

Written By Darren Cooper on May 25, 2023
The Santan Mountain Casino is set to open June 30 in Chandler.

With an open floorplan, banquet spaces suitable for large weddings, and a white – yes, white – roulette wheel, the new Santan Mountain Casino in Chandler is aiming to be an entertainment hub for the community when it opens June 30.

The public got a first glimpse at the $180 million casino complex last week. Construction took about two years to complete. Although June 30 is firm, the Gila River Tribe, which operates the casino, could have a soft launch before that date.

The new Santan Mountain Casino, at the corner of Gilbert Road and Hunt Highway, will be the tribe’s fourth casino.

Casino will house a restaurant that will use locally-sourced food

Sixteen Arizona tribes operate 24 Class III casinos statewide. Online casinos in Arizona for real money are still prohibited. With the success of Arizona online sports betting, lawmakers could be looking to duplicate that success with online casinos in the near future.

Blake Katsnelson, general manager of Santan Mountain, told the East Valley Tribune that the casino looks to fill an entertainment void in the area.

“Our main focus is the houses and the rooftops that are here, giving them something to do. Within a 15-mile radius, there’s not anything really out there except for downtown Gilbert. There’s really nothing from an entertainment standpoint. So that was our goal when we chose this location.”

Santan Mountain boasts over 800 slot machines on the gaming floor and more than 25 table games. This is the first Arizona casino opening after the passage of the expanded tribal gaming compact. The compact allows for legal sports betting and offerings like craps and roulette.

There will be a three-restaurant food court, plus a standalone restaurant called Honey and Vine. H&V promises to use locally-sourced ingredients from the Gila River Indian Community.

The casino will also include what is being hailed as Arizona’s largest casino sportsbook, which will be operated by BetMGM Arizona.

The Gila River Tribe has no plans to include a hotel, at least not right away.

Santan Mountain gives Gila a bigger footprint in Phoenix area

Santan Mountain will join sister properties Wild Horse Pass Casino and the Lone Butte Casino on the Chandler skyline. The tribe’s Vee Quiva Casino is in Laveen, about 25 miles away.

Back in January, Gila River Tribe Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis told KTAR news the company was comfortable adding a fourth establishment to the landscape.

“Not only will Santan Mountain bring additional revenue, sustainability and critical services to our community members, it will elevate our prestige in the gaming and hospitality industry as we continue to craft an entertainment dynasty.”

Santan Mountain will be holding a job fair to fill positions at the casino

There is talk of a grand opening concert to mark the June 30 opening, but no artist has been announced. Santan Mountain administrators will soon host a job fair, looking to fill some of the estimated 700 open jobs.

In order to ease the expected traffic congestion, the city of Chandler is installing a traffic light at the corner of Gilbert and Hunt Highway. Jason Crampton, the city’s senior transportation planner, told the East Valley Tribune that he’s concerned about traffic congestion in the area.

“The expectation though, as far as the traffic studies that I’ve seen, is it’s not going to overwhelm the system down there. It’s going to add a few thousand trips, probably, but it’s not going to crush the load of arterial streets down there.”

Santan Mountain won’t be the newest casino in Arizona for long. Desert Diamond Casinos is currently building a new casino within Chandler near Loop 303 and Northern Avenue, with an opening in late-2024.

Photo by Gila River Tribe/Artist Rendering
Darren Cooper Avatar
Written by
Darren Cooper

Darren Cooper was born and raised in Southern Louisiana, just a short pirogue ride away from New Orleans. He started his journalism career at the New Orleans Times-Picayune and has been a writer and columnist in New Jersey since 1998. He's won 14 statewide press awards and earned his first Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 award in 2022.

View all posts by Darren Cooper