The long struggle against seemingly impossible odds has ended with Sunday’s opening of the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Desert Diamond Casino – West Valley about 10 miles from downtown Phoenix on the edge of Glendale, Arizona. The gates opened at 10am and after ribbon cutting ceremonies and festivities the doors opened at 1pm.

Phase one of the project, with more than $200 million invested so far, offers West Valley casino-goers a short commute to their favorite games. Strong public support along with a string of legal victories seems to have given the 11-district tribe the momentum they need for a successful venture.

Among the thousands to cheer the opening was Congressional champion Raul Grijalva, who represents the district where the casino is located. Grijalva successfully headed off a ‘dark of night’ poison pill in the US House’s suspension calendar in October – a rider that would have put an end to the Nation’s aspirations and potentially cost taxpayers as much as a billion dollars. Other notable public dignitaries in attendance included Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo along with former and current elected officials from the cities of Glendale, El Mirage, Surprise, Peoria, and Tolleson. All of the Glendale city council was there except Mayor Jerry Weiers.

On offer during Phase I of the new Desert Diamond Casino – West Valley are 1089 gaming devices, a two venue food court, and a free Rewards Card. The gaming floor covers 50,000 square feet in a single space and is open 24 hours a day.

As legal battles untangle over the tribe’s right to offer Class III gaming, including blackjack, roulette, and other popular casino games, the development will grow in phases over several years to include an expanded gaming floor, spa hotel, convention and meeting space, retail, restaurants, and other amenities spanning over 1 million sq. ft. At full build-out, the WV casino will create more than 3,000 permanent jobs and have an overall economic impact of more than $300 million annually, according to a company spokesman.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward D. Manuel said “This is a great day for the Tohono O’odham Nation, for the West Valley, and for the State of Arizona. We are proud to begin delivering the first gaming entertainment in the region. This new facility will be an economic engine and entertainment destination for the West Valley.”

The casino is located at 9431 W. Northern Ave., east of the Loop 101 and can be seen from the freeway.

Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment has four locations in Arizona (TucsonSahuarita, West Valley, and Why), and is owned and operated by the Tohono O’odham Gaming Enterprise, an enterprise of the Tohono O’odham Nation.