The Navajo tribe will add a fourth casinos to its portfolio next year, a move that solidifies its place in the gaming industry and stands to benefit the largely poverty-stricken 27,000-square-mile reservation, reported the Las Cruces Sun-News.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs finalized a land-trust acquisition of 405 acres for the Navajo Nation about 20 miles outside Flagstaff, Ariz, made possible through the Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act. The deal opens doors for the construction of the $120 million Twin Arrows Casino, the fourth casino for the Navajo Nation, though its first in Arizona.
The nation’s first two casinos operate on the New Mexico side of the reservation, with the third breaking ground in the state in early 2011.
Twin Arrows will boast a gaming facility, golf course and hotel. The Las Vegas Review-Journal warns Sin City may experience competition from Twin Arrows, located just four hours to the east.
The new trust land connects the Leupp Navajo Chapter to Interstate 40, providing infrastructure to many Navajos who live without electricity or water, reported The Daily Times of Farmington.
“We’re moving forward as a Nation, a government and as a people,” Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. told The Daily Times. “About 1,000 families are going to be in a position to put food on the table, to put shoes on little feet, gas in the old jalopy out there, able to pay for the utilities. That’s what it means to my people.”
The casino should generate 768 new jobs by 2012, Shirley said in his Dec. 23 statement, with hiring preference given to Navajos.
The Nation expects to earn about $150 million per year from gaming, in addition to $20 million in repayment of the loan to the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. The Nation’s agreements with three Arizona tribes should bring the tribe another $130 million over 17 years, Shirley’s spokesman said to The Daily Times.