In the fast-paced world that is Indian gaming, changes take place quickly…the latest being an announcement by the Pascua Yaqui tribal council that one of their own has been named the new CEO of Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.
Alex Amador was one of five candidates being groomed as possible nominees for the CEO position as part of the tribe’s unique STEP (Supporting Tribal Employment Partnership) program, which trains employees in professional development and management succession. His January confirmation came earlier than expected. The tribe previously said it anticipated to name a new CEO to replace Wendell Long, Oklahoma Choctaw, in March or April. The early announcement will allow for a lengthier transition period from the current leadership to the new; Long’s planned departure is in June.
“Both my maternal grandparents are full-blooded Pascua Yaqui tribal members, so it’s very meaningful for me to advance my career at a place that encourages the professional and personal growth of its employees and the tribe,” Amador told Indian Gaming magazine.
After graduating from California State University with a bachelor of science in business administration in 2000, Amador moved to Tucson to give back to the community that provided him scholarship assistance during his studies. Amador started working at the Casino Del Sol operation in 2004, quickly reaching the top rung of the career ladder. Since joining the gaming enterprise eight years ago, Amador has held a range of job responsibilities from operations analyst, controller, director of financial operations, and most recently, assistant director of marketing.
“As interim CEO of Casino Del Sol Resort, I am looking forward to working with the community to help our friends and neighbors and continuing to serve our guests and visitors in the manner they have come to expect,” Amador wrote in an email to Indian Country Today Media Network.
Amador will follow in prosperous footsteps. Long arrived at the Tucson facility in 2006, hired as the last non-tribal-member CEO. He is proud of the accomplishments under his management. His achievements include successfully running two casinos (Casino Del Sol and the tribe’s original Casino of the Sun, both in Tucson) and the 2011 opening of Casino Del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center, which includes an outdoor amphitheater performance venue, and a new $100 million hotel and convention center. The facility has already received a Four Diamond rating from AAA Arizona.
The promotional announcement at Casino Del Sol comes just a week after Southern Arizona’s other tribal casino operation, Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, named Andy Asselin as its new CEO.
The Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise imported Asselin from a similar position working for the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. A 30-year veteran of the gaming and resort industry who has operated award-winning casinos in Michigan, California and Nevada, Asselin said: “Desert Diamond shares the same dedication to service that I have always applied, making this a perfect match.” He succeeds interim CEO Libby Francisco, who now returns to her position as leader of the gaming operation.