Arizona’s Talking Stick Casino Open Again, Lengthy Closure Followed Massive Summer Monsoon

Posted on: September 26, 2018, 06:05h. 

Last updated on: September 26, 2018, 06:05h.

Scottsdale, Arizona’s Talking Stick Casino is open for business once more, following a traumatic few weeks that ensued when a monster summer monsoon hit the property.

Scottsdale, Arizona’s Talking Stick Resort — owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indians — was shut down for most of August and September after an extreme monsoon hit the area. Right: Macau’s Ponte 16 casino was severely flooded last year at this time by the record-breaking Typhoon Hato, but this year, the region’s casinos were better prepared. (Image: KPHO Broadcasting/

Talking Stick finally reopened its doors on Monday after a 46-day closure caused by an August 10 monsoon that hit Scottsdale like a ton of bricks. The storm caused basement flooding and cut the power at the resort — leading to the evacuation of some 600 players, employees, and hotel guests in the early morning hours of August 11.

The severity of the storm’s damage wasn’t immediately realized, and the casino had to push the reopen target date back more than once.

“The necessary repairs were made to restore the property’s electrical system and other areas … we made the decision early on to only reopen the property after ensuring quality work was completed, verified and authorized by quality agencies,” said Crystal Banuelos, Chair of the Salt River Community Gaming Enterprises Board of Directors, in a September 17th Facebook post.

The casino is owned and operated by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Caught Off Guard?

The impact of the August monsoon in Scottsdale might have taken casino officials and engineers by surprise.

Talking Stick executives initially hoped the closure would only last a few days and targeted August 14 as the initial date, but that was pushed back to August 19, and then again indefinitely after that.

“Daily assessments have revealed that more time is needed to complete storm damage repairs and to replace the equipment required to ensure the property is up to the highest level of standards to which our guests have grown accustomed,” the casino said in an August 17 statement announcing further delays.

The shutdown led to the cancellation of the Arizona State Poker Championship, which was scheduled at Talking Stick from August 10-14.

Additionally, the evacuation left some players wondering how, and if, they would get the money back that they were gambling with when the evacuation was ordered. Both casino and Arizona gaming officials responded by telling customers they would indeed get their money back.

Lessons To Be Learned

Comparatively speaking, Typhoon Mangkhut — which hit Macau earlier this month as one of the largest storms to hit the area in a decade, carrying China’s highest alert level – shut down Macau casinos for just 33 hours.

The short-term closure of Macau’s casino industry despite the severity of Mangkhut is largely due to the Macau government’s response to last summer’s Typhoon Hato, which left 16 people dead and scores of Macau casino workers in harm’s way and led to protests from casino workers.

Just days before Mangkhut hit this year, Macau’s gaming regulator was given the power to shut down casino operations in the area in the case of “exceptional circumstances” in a meeting that anticipated the storm’s arrival.

The pre-planning included:

  • opening upper-level parking garages
  • allowing people to move vehicles to higher ground
  • preemptive termination of vulnerable electricity supplies, to be restored only when the risk of water damage subsided
  • greater public awareness and better coordinated evacuation plans, according to the South China Morning Post.

If another monsoon hits Arizona, the casino’s public relations director said Talking Stick will be better prepared to handle whatever potential damage might come with it.

“The meetings are taking place and the engineers are looking at this and it’s going to be fixed, definitely,” Ramon Martinez said, according to Arizona’s ABC 15 news.