- By Tribal Business News Staff
FORT McDOWELL, Ariz. — The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation has opened the new We-Ko-Pa Casino Resort about 30 miles northeast of Phoenix, Ariz.
The 166,000-square-foot contemporary facility replaces the former Fort McDowell Casino, where tribal gaming got its start in Arizona in the early 1990s. The new casino includes a range of Native American design elements and features 850 slot machines, a 400-seat bingo hall, 22 blackjack tables, and a five-table poker room. We-Ko-Pa also includes various new fine dining and casual eating options.
“We’re proud that we were Arizona’s first casino and are now the state’s newest casino,” Bernadine Burnette, president of Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, said in a statement. “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.”
The tribe invested $120 million on the new We-Ko-Pa project, according to reports.
St. Louis, Mo.-based Thalden Boyd Emery Architects designed the new casino. Phoenix-based Kitchell Construction served as the general contractor on the project.
The smoke-free casino and resort, located across the street from We-Ko-Pa Golf Club, includes an attached 246-room hotel that opened in 2006 and a new four-story parking garage.
The facilities are currently operating in compliance with COVID-19 precautions, including a required temperature check for all patrons, mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, and limited occupancy, according to a statement.
The Fort McDowell Casino first opened as a bingo hall in 1984.
“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,” Burnette stated.
The 889-member Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation is located northeast of Phoenix on a 40-square-mile reservation on part of the ancestral lands where the once nomadic Yavapai people hunted and gathered food.