Gila River Breaks Ground on Fourth Casino, Tribe Dubs Property Santan Mountain

Posted on: October 19, 2021, 09:18h. 

Last updated on: October 19, 2021, 09:39h.

Construction is officially underway on the fourth Gila River casino in Southern Arizona.

Gila River casino Arizona Phoenix
A groundbreaking ceremony of the Gila River Santan Mountain casino resort was held today, October 19, 2021. The Arizona tribe says its fourth casino will generate 650 new permanent jobs. (Image: Gila River Hotels & Casinos)

Gila River Hotels & Casinos today broke ground on Gila River Santan Mountain, a forthcoming tribal casino being built on the southeast corner of Gilbert Road and Hunt Highway in Chandler, Az. The site is roughly five miles south of Loop 202.

The estimated $150 million Santan Mountain casino will include 850 slot machines and table game positions, a high-limit gaming room, and a sportsbook. BetMGM, the tribe’s retail and online sportsbook partner, will handle sports betting operations.

Not only will Santan Mountain bring additional revenue, sustainability, and critical services to our community members, it will elevate our prestige in the gaming and hospitality industry as we continue to craft an entertainment dynasty,” declared Gila River Indian Community Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis.

Construction on Gila Riva Santan Mountain is expected to last 18 to 24 months.

Gila River Hotels & Casinos, the hospitality arm of the Gila River Indian Community, gained state approval for the Santan Mountain casino project in May. Gila River’s three other casinos are located within 25 miles of where the tribe is building its fourth gaming venue.

South Phoenix Gaming Wall

Gila River is one of 16 federally recognized tribes in Arizona that operates some form of gaming. The tribe has long dominated much of the gaming market in the southern part of the state, and its Santan Mountain casino will only solidify its control of the region south of Phoenix.

Gila Riva Vee Quiva in Laveen is the tribe’s only casino not located in Chandler. Its two current casinos in Chandler are Gila Riva Wild Horse and Gila River Lone Butte. The casinos provide travelers along I-10 four gaming options before they head further south towards Tucson and reach the four Desert Diamond casinos. The latter are owned and operated by the Tohono O’Odham Nation.

Along with the casino, Gila River Santan Mountain will provide multiple dining options and “a lively bar in the center of the casino floor featuring entertainment.” Gila River officials tell that no hotel is currently included in the project. But that might be revisited in the future.

Gila River has contracted Las Vegas-based Steelman Partners to design the Santan Mountain casino. Steelman has designed many of the world’s marquee casino resorts. Its most recent projects including Las Vegas’ Circa and Resorts World.

Wild Horse Expansion

Gila River’s Santan Mountain casino is only part of the tribe’s current spending spree on its vast tribal lands south of Phoenix. In February, the Native American community announced a major expansion of its Wild Horse casino resort.

Gila River is spending $143 million to add 205 additional hotel rooms, meeting space, two pools, and a rooftop restaurant and lounge to Wild Horse. It’s the first expansion of the Chandler casino property since it opened in 2009.

The Wild Horse expansion is slated to be finished before the end of the year.