I’ve been asked if there’s been any unusual places I’ve gambled, or what’s the smallest place I’ve ever gambled at. The answer to both questions goes back about a decade, to a place called Palace West Casino, which is near Albuquerque and is a sister property to Isleta Casino, my favorite casino out there.
At the time, my mom and I were out visiting family, and I had noticed for a long time that there were signs for a second casino on the Isleta reservation called Palace West. I nudged my mom and said we should go check it out, and ultimately we did.
What I didn’t realize was the casino, as it was, was a set of connected trailers with about 80 slot machines, and was their version of a non-smoking facility (for my mom, who liked to gamble and smoke, this was a bit of a bummer). But we were there, and so we played for a bit, and we did alright, and then we went on our way.
The property was expanded in 2014, to house 250 slot machines and electronic roulette. Interestingly, they chose a modular development strategy to stand up the building, which also incorporated a restaurant/deli and full-service kitchen. Replacing trailers with a modular building was not only time-effective, but it seems almost fitting that they’d upgrade in similar fashion to how they started – with a quick and dirty approach to standing up the casino.
The property remained their non-smoking option until the COVID-19 pandemic hit; since the pandemic reopening, Isleta itself has remained non-smoking, negating the need for a non-smoking casino, but I would imagine that Palace West would return in some form if and when the time was right.
But I recall the reaction when we pulled into the unpaved parking lot and walked into the trailer, not quite sure what to expect, and that still remains one of the more unique experiences I’ve had gambling.