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Navajo Gaming Chief Placed On Administrative Leave

Navajo Gaming Chief Placed On Administrative Leave
September 28
14:38 2016

Sometimes it’s not wise to bet on your own family and friends.

Derrick Watchman, the CEO of the Navajo Gaming Enterprise, may find that out the hard way. Watchman has been placed on administrative leave from his job amid allegations that he hired family and friends to serve in high positions in the Navajo tribe’s gaming industry – some without the qualifications to perform their job duties.

Watchman, a member of the Navajo Nation, has served as CEO since January 1, 2013. He is the first tribal member to hold the post and only the second person to preform the job.

He replaced Robert Winter.

The tribe is a relative newcomer to the Indian gaming industry. The first casino, in New Mexico, opened in November 2008 and the Twin Arrows facility, near Flagstaff, opened in May 2013.

According to the tribe, the casinos have created 1,500 jobs. Eighty-five percent of the positions are held by Navajo citizens.

“It’s good for our Navajo people to get a paycheck, go shopping and buy cars. It gives them a tremendous sense of pride that they can raise their families,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said last year.

It’s a far cry from 2014 when Watchman was named one of the state’s top CEOs by Arizona Business Magazine.

The magazine praised Watchman for creating more than 700 jobs in Arizona through the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino and Resort.

It also noted that the casino had pumped thousands of dollars into Northern Arizona’s economy.

The magazine also mentioned that Twin Arrows’s stunning architecture and Navajo decor have earned numerous awards, including Global Gaming Expo’s Top Native American Casino Facility in the Nation and the casino’s Zenith Steakhouse being recognized by Wine Spectator magazine for its wine list.

Among several directorships, Watchman is the Chairman of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development Board of Directors and a director for the Native American Bank.

He holds a MBA from the University of California and a Bachelors degree from the University of Arizona.

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