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Tesuque to open new casino on Black Friday

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Work continues on Tesuque Pueblo\’s new casino north of Santa Fe on Wednesday. The casino is scheduled to open on November 23. (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — The pueblo of Tesuque has set its opening date for its new casino.

The Tesuque Casino, replacing its now-closed Camel Rock Casino that operated for more than 20 years, will open to the public at 5 p.m. Nov. 23 — Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.

Tesuque broke ground on the one-story, 72,000-square-foot facility in January. It sits on pueblo land off U.S. 84/285 next door to the Santa Fe Opera. The property was formerly used on and off for years for the pueblo’s flea market.

The new casino will have about 800 slot machines as well as table games, dining and a space for live entertainment, said John Kubiak, chairman of the Pueblo of Tesuque Development Corp. The now-defunct Camel Rock, several miles north on the highway, had about 500 slot and video poker machines.

Though the pueblo is transferring some machines from Camel Rock, Kubiak described Tesuque Casino as having a primarily “brand new game floor.”

The design concept for the casino — by Albuquerque-based architecture firm Dekker/Perich/Sabatini and constructed by Albuquerque’s Bradbury Stamm — incorporates lots of windows to provide natural light, he added.

“We’ve got floor-to-ceiling light facing the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, looking out to the north and east,” Kubiak said. “So really stunning views of the mountains.”

He said Tesuque Casino will provide 275 jobs, compared to the old facility’s 200. Camel Rock, which opened in 1995, closed after operations Tuesday.

Following the announcement of the new casino last year, the Santa Fe Opera and pueblo officials both mentioned plans to work together to mitigate the opera’s concerns about noise and light pollution coming from its new neighbor.

According to Kubiak, the two parties have worked “hand-in-hand,” including via joint meetings with the casino project’s architects. He said the gaming floor was intentionally built as far away from the opera as possible — about a quarter mile — to minimize noise and hooded lights were installed on the parking lot.

“It’s been a very, very, positive relationship,” he said. Kubiak added he thinks there is “a lot of synergy” between the opera and the gaming operation and that opera patrons could enjoy the casino before or after a show.

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