But the Gila River Tribe, which will open the $180 million Santan Mountain Casino in Chandler next month, is going for a unique look for this site.
For instance, 90% of the entrance will be covered in windows that feature automatically tinting and brightening, depending on the changing amount of sunlight. Those windows will be transparent at night, meaning that those passing by will be able to see the casino floor.
Another theme that goes against traditional casino design is that white will be the dominant color – for everything from marble baseboards to urinal stalls to a custom-made white roulette wheel.
Two gardens highlighted with saguaro cactuses and other desert plants, meanwhile, go against a traditional casino premise of seeking to keep gamblers inside its walls at all times.
“We’re really trying to forward-think on what we feel like the environment that the guest will enjoy,” Santan Mountain General Manager Blake Katsnelson told Phoenix.org.
“There’s a dark style that the older casinos have, almost ‘dungeon-y.’ We try to pull that out and give it a bright, vibrant, airy feeling.”
“We all know that the traditional [casino] gambler is probably now a 50-plus female,” Katsnelson added. “We’re trying to plan ahead and think about the new generations that are coming.”
“What we found is that the newer generations that are coming, the Millennials, Gen Z’s, and even the ones after that – they don’t like that [closed-in] feeling. They like to be open. They like to be new and exciting.”
The casino is designed by Steelman Partners, probably best known for its Resorts World Las Vegas project. CEO Paul Steelman told communityimpact.com that the project’s unique location led to the design decisions.
“When I was approached by the tribe, I went to the site and stood there and was looking at the Santan Mountain and thought, ‘My God, this is the most beautiful casino site in the world,’” Steelman said. “There was this slight breeze, and I thought to myself that this could be one of the first casinos that we design that features windows and outdoor spaces.”
BetMGM and its tribal partner
A 17,000-square-foot sportsbook carrying the BetMGM brand name is located adjacent to the Arizona Cardinals State Farm Stadium in nearby Glendale. That site features 35 HD TVs and a 265-square-foot video wall.
BetMGM’s partnership with the Gila River Tribe also has allowed them to open sportsbooks at two other casinos in Chandler – Lone Butte and Wild Horse Pass – and still another at a nearby Laveen Village casino called Vee Quiva.
The 7,000-square-foot sportsbook at the Santan Mountain site will be the largest such gambling spot in a casino in Arizona, company officials said. The sportsbook will include the “Upper Deck Deli” for hungry gamblers.
The Santan Mountain site is about 15 miles south of Phoenix, and Katsnelson – who has worked for the tribe since 2009 – said it will be the only site in the south Chandler area where it would be practical to hold a large wedding.
In that sector of the Greater Phoenix region, Katsnelson said that “Within a 15-mile radius, there’s not anything really out there except for Downtown Gilbert. There’s really nothing from an entertainment standpoint. So that was our goal when we chose this location.”
The main restaurant at Santan Mountain Casino will be Honey & Vine, featuring menu items with ingredients grown in the Gila River community. The food court will include Rizzo’s for Italian food; Taste Kitchen for traditional American fare; and Asian restaurant Mein Dish.
The main bar will be known as The Hive and will feature nearly two dozen beers on tap.
As for gambling, there will be more than 850 slot machines and 33,000 square feet of gaming space.