After Hiatus, Yavapai-Prescott Tribe Restarts Work On New Casino

Written By Derek Helling on June 1, 2021 - Last Updated on January 30, 2023
A new Yavapai-Prescott casino is again in the works after the federal government approved re-negotiated gaming compacts in May.

Seven years ago, it looked like a new Yavapai-Prescott casino near the city with a similar name might amount to nothing more than wishful thinking. With the recent federal approval of gaming compacts, it appears those wishes might come true again.

The tribe has resumed preparations for the new gambling facility. Many details, like a timeline for completion, what the property will feature, and what its presence could mean for the tribe’s other Arizona casinos, remain speculative.

A new Yavapai-Prescott casino emerges from the ashes

According to the Navajo Times, the Yavapai-Prescott tribe is in the earliest phase of construction. Right now, personnel are conducting the necessary soil test.

The tribe has land across from the Frontier Village Shopping Mall off Hwy 69 and Yavpe Connector in Prescott. The US Dept. of the Interior took the 12-acre parcel into trust for the tribe.

Plans for the casino first became public in 2014. At the time, the estimated cost was $40 million. Initially, the tribe planned to break ground late that year. A construction estimate sat at 18 months.

When complete, the tribe planned to relocate its gaming operations from its two other casinos to the new site. Those are Bucky’s and the Yavapai Casino, both of which are also located on sovereign land near Prescott.

The tribe never took any action on the plans, however. At this time, it’s unclear whether the tribe plans to stick with its designs of shuttering Bucky’s and the Yavapai when the new casino opens.

What we can infer from this situation, however, is that the new compacts seem to have spurred activity in this case. The new table games and increase in slots are the most likely sources of motivation.

Why now is a better time than 2014 for AZ casinos

A lot of the attention from the new gaming compacts was on Arizona sports betting. However, the articles of the compacts contained much of more interest to AZ tribal casino operators.

First off, the number of casinos permissible on tribal lands inside Arizona’s borders skyrocketed up to 55. At least four others are in the works right now, two of them being in Phoenix and the other two with locations yet to be determined.

The total number of slot machines allowed across all the AZ tribal casinos also booned. This year, that sum grows to 6,300. The compacts also allow for that total to grow by as much as 550 per year.

Currently, Bucky’s and the Yavapai Casino operate 566 machines. It isn’t clear how much of the new capacity the Yavapai-Prescott tribe will receive in its allotment.

What visitors to casinos both old and new in AZ will probably notice the most as new are the several forms of table gaming that were previously not available. Those include:

  • Baccarat
  • Craps
  • Pai Gao
  • Roulette
  • Sic Bo

What about sports betting at the new casino?

Finally, the Yavapai-Prescott could be one of 10 tribal casino operators to offer retail sports betting as well. The tribe has not announced whether it will seek that opportunity and it may not do so.

Federal law prohibits online gambling on tribal lands, so even if the tribe does get into the sportsbook business, it will only be that of the brick-and-mortar variety. Additionally, there are only 10 tribal sports betting licenses to spread among 16 tribes that currently operate at least one casino near AZ cities.

Thus, even if the Yavapai-Prescott desire to offer sports betting, they may be on the outside looking in regardless. The tribe is no longer just looking to build this casino near the mall in Prescott, though. Real activity has resumed on that front.

Derek Helling Avatar
Written by
Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA and the manager of BetHer. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

View all posts by Derek Helling