By Tammy Gray –
Navajo Nation Council members voted against allowing alcohol in the hotel portion of the new casino being constructed near Twin Arrows.
During a meeting on June 14, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise requested a change to the nation’s code regulating the sale of alcohol. The change would have allowed alcohol to be served in the resort hotel as well as in restaurants within the casino. Council members denied the request, however, leaving language in place that would allow alcohol only within eateries located in the casino.
Arguing for allowing alcohol in the hotel, gaming enterprise officials noted, “The allowance of alcohol within the hotel area would guarantee a hotel rating of at least three and a half stars, which NNGE (Navajo Na-tion Gaming Enterprise) reasons would magnify the attraction of non-Indian tourists, foreigners and visitors from the Phoenix valley to the casino and hotel resort.”
Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie explained his hesitation in changing the law for the benefit of the casino was the last-minute nature of the request.
“We trust you to protect the interest of Navajo gaming operations,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘oops,’ and then come in and say, ‘We need to change the law.’”
Members of the council discussed the issue at length, ultimately deciding to pass legislation that would en-sure alcohol could be served at food establishments within the casino, but not in the hotel.
The Twin Arrows casino and hotel is currently under construction. Ground was broken in March, and the facilities are now expected to open in August 2013, according to the gaming enterprise’s website. Recruiting for employees is expected to begin this summer.
Total cost of the casino and resort is estimated at $150 million, and it is expected to employ about 800 peo-ple