• The Pascua Yaqui Tribe bought the future casino site in 2011 for $4.65 million.
  • Tucson’s Town Council believes it will benefit both the Tribe and the state.
  • Legislators must approve sports betting laws before the casino can offer a sportsbook.

TUCSON, Ariz. – The Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the city of Tucson reached an agreement on Tuesday supporting a new casino in the city.

This would be the first Pascua Yaqui owned and operated casino within Tucson and the city’s fifth casino. The location will be at the site of the former Century Theater (and former drive-in theater) off of Grant Road a few miles north of downtown. This 14.3 acres of land was purchased by the Tribe in 2011 for $4.65 million.

“I am trusting that the tribe will be very careful in what they do there,” said Jonathan Rothschild, the Mayor of Tucson. “Their spiritual grounds are right next to the larger parcel … and their community lives just north of [it].”

The Tribe never had a plan for the site; however, with the recent legal sports betting discussions in the state happening this year, they felt it was the time to capitalize on a casino buildout.

Included on the property will be a hotel, restaurants, and an entire shopping center. A smaller area will also be dedicated for special events such as weddings, quinceañeras, and other ceremonies.

In order for this to happen though, the property must be recognized as such by the federal government to make it officially a part of the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. With this, the Tribe would be able to pay a portion of their gaming taxes to the state in exchange for emergency and infrastructure services.

Will The New Casino Offer Sports Betting?

With the news being released that the Tribe will build a casino on the property, the next step is to focus on sports betting efforts.

Sports betting in Arizona has still not been legalized and regulated, though Senator Sonny Borrelli (R- Havasu City) introduced AZ SB 1158  in January.

The bill failed to make it out of the committee stage but would have permitted only tribal casinos to offer sports betting, under the terms of their state’s gaming compact.

However, Borrelli has been receiving flak from the tribes throughout the state, who feel that sports betting doesn’t need to be approved through legislative action.

“They think it should be negotiated in the compact,” Borelli said. “I have a lot of small tribes in my district, and I’m not going to be bullied by anybody.”

In short, sports betting in Arizona will take some time to be introduced. The state legislators must also set regulations to support the industry, assuming the lawmakers can come to an agreement on a bill to formally legalize sports betting.

However, one thing is for sure – this future casino will definitely be one of the gambling establishments that will offer legal Arizona sports betting.

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