The worst-kept gaming secret among Arizona's tiny Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe has been confirmed: There’s a new destination, resort-style casino on the drawing boards.
The 1,400-acre reservation in central Yavapai County, Arizona, is adjacent to Prescott, which is already home to two facilities: Bucky’s Casino and Yavapai Casino. The former adjoins the 160-guest-room Prescott Resort and Conference Center situated on "Top of the Rock" of Prescott, Arizona's "Mile High City". The existing resort offers stunning views of the town and the nation's largest continuous forest of Ponderosa pines. Free "Gold Rush" express shuttle buses run daily from Phoenix, located less than 100 miles southeast of Prescott. Other tribal enterprises include a 250-acre shopping center, Frontier Village, featuring a large collection of national brands, and Sundog Business Park, located just two minutes from Prescott and housing more than a dozen industrial office businesses. Of the approximately 150 enrolled members of the Yavapai-Prescott tribe, 115 live on the reservation.
The tribe's newest endeavor is slated for a 12-acre site along the main highway, Arizona 69, at the intersection of the Yavpe Connector. The tribe anticipates a late 2016 opening.
A formal press conference made the rumors official on Saturday, April 5. Tribal General Manager Rich Marcum has confirmed the basics with Indian Country Today Media Network: the as-yet-unnamed lodging and gaming site will offer 50,000 square feet of casino space and up to 80 hotel rooms.
“At this point, we don’t know what we’ll call it or what the design will look like,” he said. “We’re planning a strategic focus group for tribal member input and we have the summer to determine those details. The next milestone will be an architect’s rendering expected in late June. The tribe has long wanted a more modern hotel destination to replace the aging Bucky’s and Yavapai casinos; and with other tribes building “resort-style” properties, they felt the time for them to build was now.”
According to a Yavapai College Regional Economic Development Center study, the new casino will be an economic boon for the growing Prescott Valley. “For this project, it worked out to an $80 million impact to the region over the next 18-24 months,” said Marcum. That figure reflects direct and indirect benefits of the project cost as well as related increased spending in the local economy.
The 99-year-old Leo A. Daly architecture, engineering and interior design firm will lead construction and development of the project.
The destination hotel and gaming facility is intended to attract new customers from outside the region, in addition to local gamers. The new casino will feature several restaurants serving a variety of cuisines, a central bar, and flexible event space to accommodate a variety of entertainment events.
According to the Arizona Department of Gaming, the state’s gaming compact with the Yavapai-Prescott tribe allows for 566 slot machines and 90 card tables. The existing Bucky’s Casino has 309 slots, 11 poker tables and half a dozen blackjack tables, while Yavapai Casino offers 244 slots. Early information indicates the operations of the two, current facilities will be consolidated in some fashion, temporarily, and Marcum has been quoted as saying that once the new hotel is open sometime in 2016, the two older casinos will close.
“Jobwise, there will be an offset,” said Marcum. “There will be some downsizing through attrition during the consolidation phase with job increases expected on the hotel-side of the new casino. Overall we expect little or no job loss and only small employment gains, perhaps 20 to 30 employees.”
The modernization of the resort is expected to generate more revenue. “We estimate, conservatively, that casino revenues will increase between 10-15 percent over current volume,” Marcum said.