Near Tucson are three casinos owned and operated by Native American tribes, and all of them offer slots, poker, blackjack, and plenty of other games of chance to separate you from your money. Though it’s not exactly Vegas, the “Indian casinos,” as most locals call them, are generally clean and fun places to spend your time.
The completely rebuilt Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel (7350 S. Nogales Hwy., 520/294-7777 or 866/332-9467) has excellent accommodations and several restaurants onsite—including a steak house and Vegas-style all-you-can-eat buffet. The hotel-casino, operated by the Tohono O’odham, also has the Monsoon Nightclub, which brings in a mixed crowd of dancing revelers that skews a bit older than other dance clubs in town.
About 20 miles south of downtown Tucson, along I-19, the O’odham operate a second Desert Diamond Casino (520/294-7777) near the small bedroom town of Sahuarita and just a hop and a skip to the retirement community of Green Valley. As such, you’re likely to see a few retirees hanging around the blackjack tables, poker tournaments, and slots spending their Social Security checks. The New American cuisine served at the elegant Agave Restaurant (Mon.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.–7 p.m.) is always tasty, and the all-you-can-eat buffet is delicious, fresh, and stocked with more food than anybody needs. There’s also a constant stream of talent moving through the Diamond Entertainment Center, an intimate concert theater that has hosted top-name acts like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan.
A Mediterranean-influenced funland with poker, slots, bingo, blackjack, and keno, Casino del Sol (5655 W. Valencia Rd., 800/344-9435) is operated by the Pascua Yaqui. About 17 miles southwest of downtown Tucson, the casino offers delicious high-end continental cuisine at Bellissimo (daily 5–11 p.m.) and live music in the Paradise Bar and Lounge. Check the website for the schedule of bands playing at the intimate Anselmo Valencia Tori Amphitheater, which welcomes national touring acts, many of them stars from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Tucson.