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Beyond Casinos: How Arizona Tribes Are Cashing In

Casino Arizona
Annika Cline/KJZZ
Late-night Bingo at Casino Arizona.

From sports teams to car dealerships, Indian gaming is helping tribes across Arizona expand their economic muscle.

Currently, 16 tribes operate 23 casinos with Las Vegas style games like slots, blackjack and poker. Rather than simply push casinos, many tribes now tout entertainment destinations.

The Ak- Chin Indian Community, south of Phoenix, has a center that features movies, bowling and restaurants. Chairman Robert Miguel said they plan to add an ice rink.

"Kind of like something you see in New York when you see ice skating in the winter time,”  Miguel said.

The Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community, is taking advantage of its location next to Scottsdale off the Loop 101. The tribe built a spring training facility a few years ago and next year it plans to open a 70-acre auto mall.

During a recent roundtable hosted by the Phoenix Business Journal, tribal leaders discussed economic developments.

Rory Majenty said the Hualapai Tribe in northwestern Arizona has six enterprises, including the glass skywalk at Grand Canyon West.

“The good thing is we’re making money," he said."The challenge now is how do we continue to grow, but yet balance the culture and the environment?” 

Friday’s edition of the Phoenix Business Journal takes a closer look at how tribes are diversifying. 

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.