Gila River Breaks Ground on Santan Mountain Casino

Gila River Breaks Ground on Santan Mountain Casino

Construction on the newest casino in the Valley began in earnest Monday in the shadows of the Santan Mountains.

The facility, owned and operated by Gila River Hotels & Casinos, will be called Santan Mountain Casino and will be south of Chandler. The facility is Gila River’s fourth casino, joining Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte and Vee Quiva.

The future casino is located on the southeast corner of Gilbert Road and Hunt Highway and is slated to open within the next 18-24 months, according to a company press release.

Gila River Indian Community Governor Stephen Roe Lewis expressed his confidence in the project’s impact on the region in the release, citing the fact the casino project will employ upwards of 650 people.

The Community received permission to build a new casino as part of the renegotiated gaming compacts with the state that allowed for legalized online sports betting in Arizona.

“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,” Lewis said in the release.

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A New Era for Phoenix Gaming

The newest Gila River casino will feature a BetMGM sportsbook when the facility is completed, as the Gila River Indian Community inked a partnership with the company and the NFL's Arizona Cardinals in August.

Eventually, all four of Gila River’s casinos will have sportsbooks on the premises, the release said, with the Santan Mountain casino featuring a facility on the casino floor with ample seating, large-screen TVs and other amenities.

In total, the 160-acre facility will feature more than 850 slot machines and table games combined, plus the BetMGM sportsbook and various dining options. The project is budgeted at more than $150 million, the release said.

For Gila River Expansion Owner’s Team Chairman and Councilman Anthony Villareal Sr., Monday’s groundbreaking represents a new era for gaming on tribal land.

Villareal said in the release he’s excited to see the Santan Mountain project come to fruition and witness the impact the facility will have on the community at large.

“I’m so proud to witness this historic moment, which really is a testament to the hard work of our board and the collaboration of our partners and team members,” Villareal said in the release. “We will have many exciting milestones ahead with Santan Mountain, and all of them will be beneficial to our Community.”

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Christopher Boan is the lead writer at after covering sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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