2/12/2013 12:32:00 PM Twin Arrows Casino job fair packs the house Job seekers fill High Country Conference Center at Northern Arizona University for three days hoping for one of 800 jobs
Twin Arrows job applicants sit on railings, stairwells and sidewalks in and around the High Country Conference Center at Northern Arizona University waiting for their names to be called for the screening process Feb. 1. Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO
Hundreds of people apply for jobs at the Twin Arrows Casino job fair Feb. 1-3. Rosanda Suetopka Thayer/NHO
Rosanda Suetopka Thayer The Observer
Navajo owned Twin Arrows Casino is not scheduled to open until May but competition for jobs at the casino is serious. A three-day job fair offered by the Navajo Nation at the High Country Conference Center in Flagstaff, Ariz. Feb. 1-3 was proof that people need and want jobs.
Casino officials must complete hiring for Twin Arrows in 60 days, so the rush to get people hired, background checked, drug tested and fully trained is in high gear.
The Navajo Gaming Commissions needs a minimum of 800 employees to fully staff and operate the new casino.
Job opportunities are available in marketing, hospitality, accounting, administration, food and beverage, restaurant, snack, cook staff, housekeeping, security, gaming tables, waitressing, gift shop and tourist guest services.
There was no shortage of applicants. On the first day of the job fair more than 1,000 people made their way to the conference center well before the 9 a.m. start. Many of the applicants traveled from out of state.
It wasn't only Hopi or Navajo native tribal members applying for jobs. There were applicants from every ethnic background seeking work, many of whom had experience working in other casinos in New Mexico for pueblo tribes.
The casino and hotel complex, located 20 miles east of Flagstaff off of Interstate 40 will cost $175 million. The casino's operators will need a large staff to handle visitors interested in playing the slots or even just bingo.
The Navajo casino hiring agency announced a Native preference policy but, with so many jobs to fill, there were applicants from every ethnic background at the job fair.
Job fair staff gave applicants an application to fill out and a small ticket with a number. The applicants were called individually for a primary screening. If the applicant met the minimum qualifications, then interviewers called them a second time for a review of their application. If an applicant passed this second phase they were called a third time and asked to stay for drug testing and background checks. Only then did organizers consider the applicant for an on-the-spot hire.
One young woman who drove in from Farmington, N.M. the night before, stayed with a relative so she could be at the job fair at 7 a.m. even though the formal process would not start until 9 a.m. She was hired as the new Twin Arrows housekeeping supervisor by late Friday afternoon.
"I got the job," she shouted to which the whole crowd still waiting for screening, clapped loudly and shouted "Congratulations!"
One Hopi female applicant looking for an administrative assistant position arrived at 10:15 a.m. She was number 376 and was not called to the second phase until around 3:30 p.m. She left the building at 6:30 p.m. after staff told her to call the gaming offices for her personal interview the following week. Casino personnel said her ability to speak and understand the Hopi language was a desired quality.
Twin Arrows will have 1,089 slot machines, blackjack, poker, Keno tables and 90 hotel rooms when it opens in May. The resort will have several places to eat including a steak-house, an oyster bar, a 24-hour restaurant and a food court.
Twin Arrows is not the first Navajo casino. The Fire Rock Casino in Gallup, N.M. opened in 2008 and was the first Navajo owned and operated casino. It is much smaller at 64,000 square feet with 740 slots, video poker and 10 game tables including blackjack, craps and roulette and a bingo parlor.
Indian gaming was born in 1979 when the Seminole Indian Tribe in Hollywood, Fla. opened their first casino. The state of Florida tried to immediately shut it down and after a series of court battles, the United States Supreme Court handed down a decision in 1981 ruling in favor of the Seminole people stating that tribal sovereignty gave the Seminoles the right to operate and own their own bingo hall and casino.
In 1987, the Supreme Court said any federally recognized tribe can own and operate its own casino outside of state jurisdiction because all Indian tribes are considered sovereign entities within the United States. States cannot prohibit gaming on tribal reservation land.
In 1988 Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) establishing rules and regulations for the operation and regulation of Indian gaming.