Gila River Hotels & Casinos Launches Awareness Campaign to Show Impact of Tribal Gaming Contributions

Children admire one of the Phoenix Zoo’s magnificent elephants. The grant from Gila River Hotels & Casinos helped fund many capital projects including an expansion of the elephant habitat.  


Sacaton, AZ — Tribal gaming is much more than slots, poker or bingo.

In fact, funds generated from Gila River Hotels & Casinos – Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte and Vee Quiva not only have a positive social and economic impact on the Gila River Indian Community, but also the state of Arizona. Under the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming compacts, 12% of the tribe’s contribution to the state has been invested back into Arizona to improve education, healthcare, conservation and the economy of local communities throughout the state. Since 2003, tribes in Arizona have contributed $2.5 billion to nonprofits around Arizona.

When guests play at Gila River Hotels & Casinos, they play for good, something they may not realize. The gaming enterprise saw this as an opportunity to create an awareness campaign to show its guests how the tribal gaming contributions are making a difference across the state.

Gila River Hotels & Casinos’ awareness campaign, “Play for Good,” launched in March and features two organizations that benefited from these funds including the Phoenix Zoo and Soldier’s Best Friend. Through beautiful imagery and powerful storytelling, the campaign utilized awareness tactics like television, radio, billboards, organic social content and on-property collateral to show guests first-hand how Gila River’s tribal gaming revenues made an impact on each nonprofit.

The Phoenix Zoo is a staple to the state of Arizona and has been for almost 60 years. They are recognized around the world for their conservation efforts and the influence they make not just on the state, but the world.

Gila River’s Play for Good campaign highlights the series of capital projects the tribal gaming contributions helped the Phoenix Zoo fund, including the expansion of their elephant habitat, new habitats in their African Trail-Namibian Village, the construction of a 500-seat amphitheater as well as the expansion and upgrade of their species conservation research facilities and programs.

The second organization the campaign highlights is Soldier’s Best Friend, a local non-profit organization that pairs U.S. military veterans living with combat-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) with service or therapeutic companion dogs, most of which are rescued from local animal shelters. This worthy organization saves two lives at once and inspires countless others.

One of the veteran/dog teams that were trained at Soldier’s Best Friend, a nonprofit partner of Gila River Hotels & Casinos that benefited from tribal gaming funds. The grant from Gila River supported the Soldier’s Best Friend training program and was instrumental in building the Peoria training facility that serves as the organization’s headquarters.

The grant from Gila River Hotels & Casinos supported Soldier’s Best Friend’s Service/Therapeutic Companion Dog Training Program and was instrumental in building Soldier’s Best Friend’s Peoria training facility, one of five training locations across Arizona. From 2018-2019, the funding allowed Soldier’s Best Friend to serve 118 veterans, save 35 dogs from shelters, provide 2,500 hours of training to veteran/dog teams and expand the program to provide training equipment, veterinary care and more.

“Our Play for Good campaign creates a sense of pride among our players and strengthens our relationship with the Arizona community,” said Teaya Vicente, Public Relations Manager at Gila River Hotels & Casinos. “We hope this ongoing campaign will remind players that they are playing for a greater good in Arizona.”

In the first few weeks of this new campaign, Gila River Hotels & Casinos received so much positive feedback, the gaming enterprise is planning a second phase of Play for Good this summer. Gaming serves a much bigger purpose than many casino-goers realize, and Gila River is proud to be able to use their platform to share the importance of tribal gaming contributions.

“When we come together for the greater good, everyone wins, and every game makes a difference. When you play at Gila River Hotels & Casinos, you play for good,” Vicente said.

About Gila River Hotels & Casinos Gila River Hotels & Casinos operates three locations in Arizona, all owned by the Gila River Indian Community: Wild Horse Pass, Lone Butte, and Vee Quiva. The hotels at Wild Horse Pass and Vee Quiva are Four Diamond accredited. All three casinos offer a combination of slots, table games, bingo, poker and more, and are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Additional information is available at 1-800-946-4452 or at


Native Business Magazine

Native Business Magazine

Carmen Davis - Founder, Publisher and Executive Editor

Mrs. Davis is the founder, publisher and executive editor of the only Native American wholly owned and operated national tribal business publication, Native Business Magazine, and the producer of the annual and nationally attended Native Business Summit.

Mrs. Davis is also president of Davis Strategy Group has over 23 years of service to Indian Country and as an entrepreneur she has successfully established, operated, managed and grown several businesses in multiple sectors. She is equal parts a strategic visionary and behind-the-scenes implementor, essential in guiding and overseeing every process of brand development, business expansion, nation-to-nation relationship building and more.

She was named in 2009 as one of the first recipients of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s, “40 Under 40” award which recognizes up and coming community and business leaders from across Indian Country.