Construction of a new casino in the west valley is in the final stages, and for the most part Arizona voters are supportive of it.
The national polling firm of Moore Information Inc., conducted a survey of 500 likely Arizona voters. The results of the survey showed that 22% who were knowledgeable of the Tohono O’odham Nation‘s casino were opposed to it, while 58% percent supported it. The remaining 20% of the respondents had no opinion. Support was similar in Maricopa County, with 24 percent against the casino and 58 percent in favor of it.
Also contained in the poll was HR 308, or the “Keep The Promise Act” of 2015. Seventy-four percent of the individuals polled opposed the measure that is currently before Congress, and intended to stop the Tohono O’odham Nation’s Desert Diamond West Valley Resort from opening. The poll results showed that only 19 percent were in support of the resolution, according to KFYI.
Expected to open its doors on December 20, for the time being, the casino will operate under a Class II license and limited gaming, with bingo machines that fall into the lesser gaming category. Government approval is not required for a Class II operation at a facility on sovereign lands. The lesser license does not include table games or true-odds video poker or Las Vegas style slot machines. The Arizona Department of Gaming Enforcement refused to grant the Tohono O’odham the necessary permissions to offer Class III gaming. A full gaming license is pending in federal court for the Glendale casino. The Desert Diamond West Valley Resort would be operated by the Tohono O’odham Nation on unincorporated land the tribe owns adjacent to the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.
HR 308 is intended to settle the debate over promises allegedly made by the federally recognized Tohono O’odham Nation. Many opponents of the casino in Arizona, most notably the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Gila River Indian Community, both tribes with competing casinos, say the casino violates promises made to Arizona voters in 2002 by the tribe that it would not be building a casino in the Phoenix area. In recent years the two competing casinos have spent in excess of $14 million on lobbyists to oppose the casino. No such promise was made, according to the Tohono O’odham, an assertion that has mostly been backed by the more than dozen court battles won by the tribe, which have found that future casinos are not expressly prohibited in the language of the compact. Generally, federal law permits casinos on reservation land, and if HR 308 ever passes and becomes law it would have serious ramifications for Congress.