Quechan Casino Resort
Quechan Casino Resort in Winterhaven, California

Hearts and Diamonds in the Rough: Quechan Tribe’s Casinos Draw Gamers Across Borders

Lee Allen

If you walk out of the Quechan Tribe’s Arizona casino, the California state line is only 18 inches away, so it made business sense to have a casino in both states.

Today the 45,000-acre reservation that straddles the lower Colorado River, just north of the Mexican border, houses two bustling gaming houses—Paradise Casino in Yuma, Arizona, and Quechan Casino Resort in Winterhaven, California.

It’s been 20 years since the Quechan Tribe of the Ft. Yuma Indian Reservation entered the field of gaming with their 300-seat bingo hall. In 1996, the tribe expanded operations, opening Paradise Casino, which initially offered 475 slots, live poker, keno and bingo, and a full-service restaurant.

Thanks to the area’s warm winter temperatures, the casino capitalizes on the cold weather tourism trade, additionally aided by Interstate 8, which several million cars traverse annually on their way to and from Phoenix and San Diego.

To accommodate growing consumer demand, the tribe debuted Quechan Casino Resort on the other side of the state line in 2002, just six minutes from Yuma, where they could offer table games under California State law.

The newest addition was deemed a “Mediterranean Oasis in the Desert” by YumaSun.com, with the Casino City Times describing it as “a transformation of sand-covered hills into a new $200 million casino-resort.”

Tribal member Charles Montague Sr., general manager of Paradise Casinos, says: “It was a wise move to put two casinos close together, because, initially, Arizona didn’t have any table games, but California did. It was an economic boom time and gamers showed up left and right.”

Quechan Casino Resort’s nearly 3,000-square-foot gaming space houses 1,000 gaming machines and two-dozen table and poker games, open 24/7. Table games include six-deck and double-deck Blackjack, Pai Gow and Three Card Poker, while eight live poker tables deal Texas Hold‘em and Omaha Hi-Low splits. High-rollers are awarded VIP treatment in the region’s only high-limit room with multi-denomination reel slot machines, video reel slots, Keno and video poker machines and double-deck Blackjack.

Two restaurants are available to feed hungry gamers—Sidewinders Grill and Ironwood Steakhouse—and 166 guest rooms (including eight 800-square-foot suites) await exhausted gamers and other consumers who partake in the resort’s other entertainment options.

The 20,000-square-foot Pipa Event Center is one of the area’s largest venues for entertainment, special events and meetings with a full-size stage and seating for 2,300.  Paradise Casino on Quechan Drive in Yuma keeps its 500 new and classic slot machines humming by continuing to add new floor games.

Despite a drop in gaming participation during the recession, the casinos have contributed to the tribe’s economic vitality.  “Looking at both properties, our trips are up over last year at Quechan Casino Resort and substantially up at the Paradise facility,” says Montague.

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