Navajo Moving Closer to Opening Casino
Thread: Indian Gaming in the News
Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. expects to see the first casino on the Navajo reservation “in short order.” The Navajo Nation is both the largest tribe, with over 250,000 enrolled members, and the largest reservation in the U.S., covering 17.5 million acres. In the mid-1990s, the Nation twice voted down referenda to build a casino.
Opposition to a tribal casino was strongly influenced by Navajo beliefs that gambling is corrupt and destructive. Along with the Hopi, the Navajo Nation's position against gaming was touted by some as an "authentic" Native view of gambling. The shift in the Navajo Nation's position on gaming turned in large part on the hope that gaming may help raise the living standard of a people whose unemployment rate is 44 percent and whose per capita income is just over $6,000. Current plans are for a relatively small-scale temporary casino, with 450 slot machines and 5 table games, with a larger facility in the future.