Gambling that west Chandler
residents would put up less of a
fuss than their Gilbert counterparts
over a planned $60 million, 24-hour
casino, the Gila River Indian
Community has opted to build its new
Lone Butte Casino at Kyrene Road and
And although some residents aren’t
happy with the decision or the
timing of notification they received
to attend a public meeting, their
concerns appeared to come too late.
Tribal officials broke ground for
the project on Oct. 8, just four
days after a public meeting that had
been announced only 72 hours
Opening is scheduled late next year.
In Gilbert, a vocal and unexpected
outpouring of protests from local
homeowners near the proposed site at
Gilbert Road and Hunt Highway
persuaded tribal officials to
quickly consider an alternate
location, in southwest Chandler.
A last-minute open house, arranged
by Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn on Oct.
4 and held at the Desert Breeze
Police Substation just north of
Chandler Boulevard, was intended to
provide a forum for residents to ask
The audience seemed more concerned,
however, with the lack of notice and
indications that the project
appeared to be a done deal.
“I am extremely disappointed with
the city of Chandler,” said Twelve
Oaks resident Luke Garner. Garner
claims residents in his neighborhood
never received notice from Chandler
of scheduled construction of a new
casino complex, within walking
distance of nearby Sundance Park,
until just days earlier.
“My concern is a big casino means
easy money, crime, alcohol served 24
hours a day, and more drunk drivers
on our local streets.
“Last year my home was broken into
and my wife’s checks that were
stolen were cashed at the local
casino,” says Garner.
Neighbor Cindy Cullins voiced
“I don’t oppose casinos. But build
it away from a neighborhood. Our
children play baseball at our local
park, which is less than a quarter
mile from the proposed casino.
“I’m concerned about the increase in
drunk drivers on Kyrene Road and the
safety of children at the park.”
Jenni Layton, also from Twelve Oaks,
said she can’t understand, when
Arizona lawmakers drafted
legislation legalizing gaming on
Indian reservations, they provided
for the building of casinos next
door to residential neighborhoods
and elementary schools.
“When they voted to legalize casino
gambling why (were) no rules written
prohibiting the building of casinos
next to parks, schools and
The mayor, however, had an
altogether different view on the
“I think it’s a positive
development,” he said.
“The Gila River Community is
transforming a heavy industrial area
by moving a cement recycling plant
and replacing it with a casino and
Audience member Garner replied that
he’d rather have the cement plant.
Dunn reminded residents that
Chandler has no influence over where
the Gila River Community builds its
casino since it is not being built
within city limits but on the
After the public forum portion of
the meeting ended, most who attended
complained vehemently over the lack
of notice that was afforded them.
“I’m very upset the city of Chandler
has not kept us informed. I just
found out yesterday…that they were
going to break ground on the casino
at Kyrene and Loop 202 next week,”
said Warner Ranch resident Shashi
Karpur noted that such development
is not compatible with neighborhoods
“Casinos create a bad environment
and increase the number of drunk
drivers on our streets,” she said.
Dale Enos, president of Gila River
Gaming Enterprises, admitted the
tribe’s decision to locate the new
Lone Butte Casino at Kyrene and Loop
202 was due to objections from
residents in the Gilbert Road-Hunt
Highway area, so planners looked
“We chose the new location for its
accessibility and visibility from
drivers on Loop 202 and I-10.
“And, we’re helping the Lone Butte
Industrial Park change from an
industrial to a retail business
location,” he said.
The new casino will have 750 slot
machines and five restaurants
including Café 247, open 24 hours.