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Navajos approve financing for casinos

By Daniel Kraker

Flagstaff, AZ – Last week the Navajo Nation Council's Budget and Finance Committee approved two separate plans to use about 300 million dollars of the tribe's own money to build the casinos. Only a handful of tribes have self-financed casinos.

Bob Winter, who directs the tribe's Gaming Enterprise, says the Navajo Nation did it for two reasons.

"Number one, their development will be quicker, number two, instead of paying interest rates to developers or banks, they are paying the interest back to themselves."

Winter calls it a triple win for the Navajo Nation. Not only will interest payments stay on the Navajo Nation, but the casinos will also generate jobs for Navajo people and revenues for tribal coffers. The largest of the planned casinos is a 140 million dollar casino, hotel and spa at Twin Arrows east of Flagstaff. Winter says it will fit in with the surrounding landscape.

"Development will be a Dark Sky development, expect the hotel to be a LEED certified hotel, structure will be cultural, environmentally pleasing, it's not going to be a Las Vegas facility."

The Twin Arrows resort is expected to be completed in March of 2012. Winter hopes the other four casinos, one in Chinle and three in New Mexico, will be completed by the fall of 2011.