Twenty years ago, the Tonto Apache Tribe’s Mazatzal Casino started out in a one-room modular unit. Today, it includes a 53,000-square-foot casino and hotel and helps drive the local economy.
All this week, the casino will celebrate its two decades in Rim Country with live music, giveaways, cupcakes and trivia.
“We are really (going all out) for this 20th anniversary,” said Tim Barrett, marketing and media entertainment specialist at the casino.
While Barrett has been with the casino three years, he’s seen pictures of the casino’s development and heard stories about the early years from players, some of whom have been with the casino since its infancy.
Back in 1993 the tribe signed a gaming compact with the state authorizing a casino on the tribe’s land south of Payson.
The first casino was built shortly thereafter with 90 slot machines and a small snack bar.
In April of 1995, the casino underwent its first major expansion when it built a 35,000-square-foot site with a bingo hall, restaurant, card room and many more slot machines. That space still stands today in the far west wing of the casino serving as the bingo/banquet hall.
The casino’s next expansion was in August of 2007, which included the much larger casino area and 40 hotel rooms, all suites. Last year, the casino added a café, the Coffee Korner, just inside the south entrance.
“That has been a huge success,” Barrett said.
As the casino has grown, so too has its importance in the community. Mazatzal is the largest employer in the area with 300 Native and non-Native American employees.
Barrett said the casino sponsors a leadership program, offers scholarships, social programs and makes donations throughout the community, including to the towns of Star Valley and Payson.
Celebrate this milestone at the casino all week.
• Tuesday, Sept. 3: 11 a.m. T-shirt giveaway; double points from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; birthday cupcakes at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.; 20 winners will be randomly selected to received $200 in Maz Cash; Bob Seger tribute band Turn the Page performs.
• Wednesday, Sept. 4: From 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. the casino will select a random player every half hour, giving them three chances to answer a question about the history of the casino. Winners will receive $100 and $100 in Maz Cash.
• Thursday, Sept. 5: Between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., guests who play $20 using their players club card are eligible for $20 in Maz Cash.