In Arizona, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation officially welcomed visitors to its new We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort on October 29, 2020. Located in Scottsdale, the new 166,341-sq ft casino replaces the Fort McDowell Casino that first opened its doors to the public in 1984 as a bingo hall.
The federally recognized tribe held a groundbreaking ceremony for the multi-million dollar casino on June 29, 2018, with an expected completion date of spring 2020.
Commenting on the opening in an official press release, president of the federally-recognized Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Bernadine Burnette said…
“We’re proud that we were Arizona’s first casino and are now the state’s newest casino.
“Gaming has been a part of our tribal community for the past three decades and has allowed us to provide financial security for our members and employees. Our upscale new casino will allow us to take gaming to an entirely new level while keeping a Native American look and feel – with design elements of earth, water, fire and basket-weaving that are so important to our culture.”
Touted as a “contemporary ambiance and visitor-centric experience that raise the bar for Valley casinos,” the new casino offers the usual gaming amenities, slots, tables, bingo, etc., along with various dining options and event venues. The venue connects to the existing AAA Four Diamond 246-room hotel and a new four-story covered parking structure.
Along with the 14-year-old hotel, there is also the existing, upscale We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, which boasts two award-winning golf courses; the Scott Miller-designed Cholla Course and Saguaro designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw, located across the street from the casino on Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation land.
According to the website, gaming options at the new casino offer a total of 923 slots, including 55 in the High Limit Lounge and 44 throughout four casino bars, a variety of live table games such as Blackjack, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Three Card Poker, along with a new, smoke-free 760-seat bingo hall and a five-table poker room with big-screen HDTVs.
The property also offers a total of nine dining and drinking options including fine dining at the upscale Ember restaurant featuring quality steak and seafood, casual all-American at Ahnala, 24/7 quick eats at The Market, a snack bar located in the bingo room, a sports bar-themed restaurant, and opening November 23, The Buffet, with live cooking stations. A lounge/bar in the High Limit Lounge, casino center lounge/bar, and video poker bar round out the offering.
Smokers can take advantage of four outdoor areas designated just for them, while all other areas including gaming, hotel rooms, public spaces, dining and entertainment venues are smoke-free. Additionally, the casino operates in “full compliance with all mandated COVID-19 precautions includes taking patrons’ temperatures (only granting entry to those with 100-degree temperatures or less), requiring masks, providing ample sanitation stations, encouraging social distancing, and limiting elevator and outlet occupancy.”
The tribe’s existing casino, which featured 150,000 square feet of gaming space with 23 table games, including a 10-table poker room and a 1200 seat bingo hall, remained open during construction of the new casino.
At the 2018 groundbreaking, Burnette said…
“We may be the smallest tribe in the Valley, but we built the first high stakes bingo hall in the Phoenix area three decades ago and today we are taking another huge leap forward. This exciting project will set a new standard for quality entertainment in the Northeast Valley while providing economic security to our tribal government.”