In Arizona, the mayors of eight cities have penned an open letter in support of a proposal from the state’s governor that would craft a new deal with local Native American tribes and restrict the opening of any new casinos in the Phoenix area.
According to a report from the Phoenix Business Journal newspaper, Republican governor Doug Ducey has partnered with several Arizona tribes to push for new compacts limiting casinos in the immediate vicinity of the western state’s largest city in exchange for deals that would allow for more gambling at existing venues.
“We write to express our appreciation and support for your leadership in bringing many of Arizona’s tribal communities together to negotiate important and necessary changes to Arizona’s gaming compact,” read the letter signed by the mayor’s of Phoenix-area communities Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Apache Junction, Fountain Hills and Litchfield Park. “As mayors, we would like to reemphasize our support and commitment to working with you and the impacted Native American communities to find an equitable compact agreement that ultimately results in no additional gaming casinos being constructed in the Phoenix metropolitan area.”
The newspaper reported that Ducey’s move comes with the state embroiled in a long-running legal dispute with the Tohono O’Odham Nation over whether the tribe should be allowed to operate Class III games at its Desert Diamond West Valley Casino And Resort in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.
“As you know, on November 21 the state of Arizona and eight tribes signed compact amendments in which those tribes expressly agreed not to open additional casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area,” read the letter from mayors Jim Lane, John Insalaco, Mark Mitchell, Linda Kavanagh, John Giles, Jay Tibshraeny, Jennifer Daniels and Thomas Schoaf. “We applaud this effort; however, express our concern as to the lack of agreement by the tribal entity party to the lawsuit of which the amendments to the compact were designed to assist in settling.”
The Tohono O’Odham Nation casino sits just north of the 72,000-seat University Of Phoenix Stadium, which has hosted the prestigious Super Bowl in 2008 and 2015, and opened a year ago after overcoming several legal, political and regulatory hurdles but has not been permitted to offer Class III games such as random number generated slots because the Arizona Department Of Gaming has refused to grant it the appropriate authorizations.
“Additionally, it has been reported that a settlement to the state’s legal challenges surrounding the Glendale casino has been offered,” read the December 20 letter. “We feel this was a reasonable offer and would appreciate your continued efforts to bring the parties together with ultimate acceptance of the proposal. We stand ready to assist you however we can. Thank you for your continued work and dedication to this important issue to the citizens of our state.”