Gila River starts $143M casino expansion in AZ


In Arizona, Gila River Hotels & Casinos has begun construction on a $143 million expansion and enhancement project at its Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino in the city of Chandler and is expected to be completed by fall 2021.

The expansion, which is the first since opening in 2009, is to add a 150-foot hotel tower with 205 rooms, adding to the existing 242-rooms and suites. The new 11-story tower will house 37 separate suites, including a pair of presidential suites featuring balconies with views of the Sierra Estrella mountain range.

Plans for the 100,000 sq ft gaming floor enhancements include new color palette, carpeting, lighting fixtures, and an 80 ft wide and 12 ft tall LED screen that overhangs the casino floor.

Added amenities:

Conference space will also be expanded, with a total of 22,000 sq ft to be added, including 18,000 sq ft of indoor and 4,000 sq ft of outdoor meeting space. The new tower will also be home to a second-floor bar and lounge and a rooftop restaurant with sunset views. An adults-only pool (21+) offering direct access to six separate suites, and an oasis-style pool with two hot tubs, full-service cabanas, and a poolside bar and grill round out the Wild Horse Pass expansion.

The projectโ€™s general contractor is Tempe, Arizona-headquartered Sundt Construction Inc., while the expansion is being handled by project management firm, TynanGroup, and Las Vegas-based Friedmutter Group is the project architect.

This year, the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic crisis have seen major setbacks in the hospitality and gaming industries, however, Chief Executive Officer for Gila River Hotel & Casinos, an enterprise of the Gila River Indian Community, Kenneth Manuel, reportedly told the source the expansion will pave the way for future advances.

According to the CEO, the project has been in the planning stage prior to COVID-19 and has maintained its original timeline.

Voluntary shut down:

Like other tribal casinos across the state of Arizona, the Gila River Indian Communityโ€˜s three casinos including Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass casinos near Chandler and Vee Quiva casino near Laveen, shut down because of COVID-19 in mid-March. All three casinos initially reopened on May 15 when Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the southwestern U.S. stateโ€™s stay at home order.ย The casinos closed again on June 18 for two weeks amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in Arizona.

Safety guidelines:

All three casinos have now been reopened and are operating around the clock and are reportedly following the guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and directives from local and state health officials, according to the Gila River Hotels & Casinos website. Some of the procedures and protocols in place are 50 percent occupancy, temperature checks, mandatory masks, no smoking, self-serve sanitizing stations, and social distancing among others.

The hotels at the properties will remain closed through August 31, however, valet and bell service will be suspended along with other temporary closures and suspensions after the hotel reopens.