The Santa Ana Star Casino located on the Jemez Dam Road off NM 550 near Bernalillo, New Mexico opened its doors to the public back in 1993 and in doing so became the first tribal casino to operate in New Mexico. The casino recently announced that it plans to invest $50 million in a new expansion project that will include building an attached hotel.

This is not the first time that the Santa Ana casino has attempted to expand and construct a hotel. The casino decided in 2000 to construct a casino hotel that would have seven storeys and a total of 288 suites and rooms but was forced to stop construction in 2002 due to a number of issues. The project was never completed and the casino managed to convert some of the completed work into extra gaming space, a customer service area and a parking garage.

Santa Ana has decided that it is now the right time to once again look to construct its first attached casino hotel but has decided not to make any of its plans public as of now. The casino did confirm that construction is expected to start this month and the project will be completed in 24 months. The expansion will also include an espresso bar and a casual dining steakhouse.

JCJ Architecture has been given the contract to design the project and Jaynes Construction has been hired to serve as the general contractor. The community relations manager for the Santa Ana casino, Shannon Guess stated that the new hotel will be constructed on the eastern side of the casino. The expansion will create hundreds of temporary jobs and once the project is completed, around 120 full time positions will be available.

John Cirrincione, the general manager for the Santa Ana Star Casino stated that this expansion project was an important step for the Pueblo tribe of Santa Ana as well as the local community as it will help to create new jobs and help synergize the tribe’s business interests. The expansion plans are in line with the tribe’s mission of implementing tribal programs that benefit the Pueblo’s and improve economic conditions in the region.

In a statement, Governor Myron Armijo, Pueblo of Santa Ana said “This expansion is an investment in our people and in our future. We are proud to begin this next chapter and continue building a responsible, innovative business that will benefit our children and our children’s children for many decades to come.”

Tribal casinos in New Mexico are not required to report revenue to state authorities but do send in reports every quarter about their ‘net win’ which is the total amount wagered on slot machines minus the amount paid out in fees,  rewards and cash. The casino’s net win during the first quarter of 2016 was $21.43 million.