Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and representatives of nine out of 17 Arizona tribes renegotiated the state’s gaming compacts in Phoenix last week. The original compact was created 15 years ago.
“It’s time for us to modernize this compact to meet the changing needs of the state and to increase the opportunities for tribal gaming,” Governor Ducey said. “It’s a view that’s been expressed by tribal leaders over the years, and I agree. the time has come to allow each tribe more freedom in their gaming operations and give every Nation the opportunity to have a seat at the table.”
Notably not present at the November 21 convening was the Tohono O’odham Nation. The tribe operates the West Valley Desert Diamond Casino in Glendale, which the state denied a permit for Class III gaming last year due to its location. The dispute goes to the U.S. District Court on December 14. But Judge David Campbell has requested the parties notify him as to whether a settlement is possible.
The Tohono O’odham Nation has not signed the amended tribal-state compact created on November 21. “The Nation stands ready to consider compact amendment language that would resolve the outstanding litigation, including the Class III issue at its west valley facility, and includes language regarding no new casinos in the Phoenix area during the current compact,” a statement from the tribe reads.
Gov. Doug Ducey agreed to allow Class III gaming at the West Valley casino in exchange for a promise the tribe won’t seek additional gaming sites in the Phoenix area. The updated compact prohibits new casinos in the Phoenix area.
Other tribes that signed the amended compact include the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Fort McDowell, the Hualapai Tribe, the Tonto Apache Tribe, the Havasupai Tribe and the White Mountain Apache Tribe, reported the Glendale Star.
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation – President Bernadine Burnette
“On behalf of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, I want to thank Governor Ducey and his staff for hosting today’s historic signing ceremony,” said President Bernadine Burnette. “It signifies the State’s respect to engage in meaningful government-to-government negotiations with Fort McDowell and other Arizona tribes to plan for and to ensure the future of tribal gaming in our State.”
Tonto Apache Tribe – Chairwoman Jeri DeCola
“As the smallest tribe in rural Arizona, tribal gaming revenue has had a significant impact on the services we provide to our community members. Going forward, our community will look to ensure that the future of tribal gaming continues to support the needs of the rural markets while continuing to benefit all Arizonans. We trust that more tribes will sign on to this important amendment to the compact, and we stand ready to work with Governor Ducey and tribal leaders on the next round of compact discussions.”
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community – President Delbert W. Ray, Sr.
“Today we reaffirm the promise we made 15 years ago that Indian gaming would be limited, well-regulated and there would be no additional casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area,” said Delbert W. Ray, Sr., President of the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community. “I commend Governor Ducey for building on both the legacy of previous Arizona leaders and the incredible success of the 2002 tribal gaming compact. It has created upwards of 15,000 jobs, driven significant economic development, and contributed to making Arizona’s education and health care systems stronger. It is my hope that, with Governor Ducey’s continued leadership, all tribes will be willing to consider signing this agreement to fulfill the promises that were made to other tribes, Arizona’s elected leadership, and the people of Arizona so many years ago.”
White Mountain Apache – Chairman Ronnie Lupe
“The White Mountain Apache Tribe is confident that the Compact Amendment and future Compact Negotiations to Modernize Gaming in Arizona will have a Positive Impact upon Indian Gaming in Arizona; to ensure the continued financial and socio-economic prosperity of both Rural and Metropolitan Tribes as well as the State of Arizona.”
Hualapai – Chairman Damon Clarke
“The tribal gaming compact adopted in 2002 has benefited all Arizonans, including non-gaming tribes like Hualapai,” said Hualapai Tribal Chairman Dr. Damon Clarke. “The ability to generate revenue from leasing machine rights to other tribes has provided a lifeline to maintain critical programs in our community. In signing this important amendment, we hope to continue our cooperative relationships with other tribes and the people of Arizona. The Hualapai Tribe remains committed to working with Governor Ducey, as well as other tribal leaders, to ensure the voices of non-gaming tribes are fairly represented.”
Havasupai – Chairman Don E. Watahomigie
“The Havasupai look forward to working with the State to extend and update the gaming compact that has provided so much benefit for the people of Supai,” said Chairman Don E. Watahomigie. “We are prohibited by federal law and by our remote location from having gaming on our reservation but the existing compact permits us to transfer our gaming device rights and the revenue from these transfers to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Ft. McDowell Yavapai Tribe and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe provide the revenue for the governmental and social services we provide for our members.”
Gila River Indian Community – Governor Stephen Roe Lewis
“I am hopeful that all tribes will join the tribes here today and sign this amendment to reaffirm the principles of limited gaming in Arizona. The Community looks forward to working with Governor Ducey to explore what is possible with a revised compact that benefits the State and all Arizona tribes. The Community encourages all Arizona tribes to sign this amendment and we look forward to working with those that do.”
Navajo Nation – President Russell Begaye and Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates
President Russell Begaye states, “I am pleased that Governor Ducey has taken the lead to negotiate amendments that will modernize our gaming compact, so we can better compete for patrons, cut excessive regulation and extend our compact’s duration. These benefits to Navajo gaming will create more jobs for our tribal members.”
Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates states, “I extend my appreciation to Gov. Ducey and his administration, the Arizona gaming tribes, and the Navajo Nation Council’s Arizona Gaming Subcommittee, including chairman Alton Joe Shepherd, for bringing us to this point, and I look forward to continuing our negotiations in good faith for the benefit of gaming tribes and the entire state of Arizona.”