The controversial Desert Diamond West Valley Casino located near Glendale may now legally operate as a class III casino following amendments to the Arizona Gaming Compact, which regulates the types of gaming operations available to Arizona Tribes as well as the portion of revenue each casino is legally required to pay to the state. The U.S. Department of the Interior made these decisions earlier this year after Arizona governor Doug Ducey agreed to license the casino after previously opposing its class III designation.
The Desert Diamond Casino has been surrounded by controversy since its construction was first announced by the Tohono O’odham Nation.
In 2015, the state of Arizona had refused to license the Desert Diamond Casino, meaning that the casino would have to operate under a class II designation which are regulated by each independent tribe along with the federal government and offer bingo and card games in which the house cannot win.
Class III casinos include traditional casino amenities such as slot machines and card games such as poker and blackjack featuring a house that can win.
State and federal officials were worried about the precedent such a designation would set regarding the establishment of casinos off tribal lands; the Nation had purchased land in West Valley without disclosing its intention to construct a casino.
The Nation had argued that the casino would provide a valuable economic boost to the region along with numerous job opportunities. Numerous Glendale citizens and the Glendale city council also offered their support for the casino, citing its monetary benefit.
The features of a class III designation will be observable following an expansion scheduled for completion in 2019, according to tribal officials. In its current state, the casino still only offers class II amenities. In return for licensing, the O’odham Nation may not open any more casinos in the county of Maricopa until 2041.