National Trend Of Tribal Casino Success Reflected in Arizona

Written By Dan Holmes on August 3, 2023
Like tribal casinos across US, Arizona casinos have been tremendously successful.

Tribal casinos are seeing tremendous success and growth across the US. That trend is evident in Arizona.

The 24 casinos in Arizona owned and operated by tribes accounted for $123.6 million in tax contributions in fiscal year 2022-23, a state record, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.

In the most recent quarter, $38.4 million was paid to the state from casino revenue generated by casinos operated and owned by tribal nations.

Nationally, tribal-owned casinos took in $41 billion in revenue in FY 2022-23, according to a report by the National Indian Gaming Commission. That is roughly 40% of all US casino gaming revenue.

Millions of dollars in casino revenue go to towns and villages in Arizona every year

Arizona has 16 tribal nations that own and/or operate all of the state’s 24 casinos. Arizona online casinos remain prohibited and there’s no hint that will change in the foreseeable future.

The tax revenue from gaming at Arizona casinos helps fund the Arizona Benefits Fund (ABF). The fund supports programs to conserve resources of the state, as well as inject monies into local programs. More than $15 million went directly to local towns and villages from July 2022 to June 2023.

Arizonans can rejoice in the patronage of tribal-owned casinos because ABF dollars go to improve the state in key areas.

  • Education
  • Wildlife conservation and restoration
  • Emergency services
  • Tourism promotion

More casino options in Arizona could mean more tax revenue

More revenue should be added to the huge totals from tribal casinos in the coming year thanks to the new Santan Mountain Casino, operated by the Gila River Indian Community. The venue was opened last month and has already impressed visitors with a unique layout.

Gila River Public Relations Manager Daniela Vizcarra spoke to PlayAZ about the casino’s atmosphere in July.

“People think of casinos as a dark place with no windows and people are smoking. We don’t have any of that.”

Santan Mountain has far more windows and a much lighter and open feel than many casinos offer. This trend for a more luxurious and open-air gaming floor is proving popular. The open layout with lighter shades of color and large windows that serve to show off the vistas and sunny weather of Arizona are popular with younger customers, Vizcarra said.

A 7,000-square-foot BetMGM sportsbook at Santan Mountain is the largest in Arizona. It provides a comfortable and inviting space for sports fans to follow game action and place bets on their mobile apps or at a betting window.

Desert Diamond Casino will soon join roster of casinos in the state

Even more options are on the way for residents and visitors to the state.

Ground has broken on the Desert Diamond Casino, which will be located in Glendale in the Phoenix West Valley region. Phase 1 of that ambitious project, which is being undertaken by the Tohono O’odham Nation, should be completed in late 2024.

The tribe owns and operates three other Arizona Desert Diamond casinos:

  • Desert Diamond Casino on Nogales Highway south of Tucson
  • Desert Diamond Casino at I-19 & Pima Mine Road in Sahuarita
  • Golden Hasan Casino in Why
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes writes about sports betting, sports media, and sports betting legislative matters. He's the author of three books, and previously reported for Major League Baseball, as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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