For the quarter that ended March 31, contributions from tribal gaming revenue to the state will be an approximate $23.9 million, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.
Compared to the same time period last year, that’s a decrease of 5.1 percent. Daniel Bergin, the director of the Department of Gaming, says he’s hoping that after experiencing six consecutive quarters of revenue increases, the decrease is an anomaly.
Of the approximately $23.9 million, he says that the state’s Instructional Improvement Fund of education will receive about $11.8 million. Emergency and trauma services will receive nearly $6 million, according to the Associate Press. Uses for other funding goes towards state tourism and wildlife conservation and the department’s operating costs. The state, cities, towns and counties receive between 1 percent and 8 percent of gross gambling revenue from tribes with Class III casinos while the less lucrative Class II establishments are not required to contribute a portion of their revenues to the state.
In related news, the state is still fighting the Tohono O’odham Nation’s attempt at obtaining a Class III gaming license for its West Valley Desert Diamond Resort Casino located at the edge of Glendale on the western side of Phoenix. The tribe also faces opposition from the Gila River Indian Community, which operates three casinos in the state, two in Chandler and one in Laveen. Opponents claim that the casino violates promises made to Arizona voters in 2002 by the Tohono O’odham that it would not be building a casino on land it purchased outside of its reservation boundaries in the Phoenix area. The group has continued to press for legislation to stop casino operations and according to an April 20 filing, has paid a total of $690,000 to the Akin Gump firm for its lobbying efforts during the first quarter of 2016.
The tribes, along with others, are battling over the Keep the Promise Act. H.R. 1410, introduced into the United States House of Representatives during 113th United States Congress, would prohibit tribes from establishing casinos on land in the Phoenix Metro area on Indian land acquired after April 9, 2013. The bill failed to advance in 2015, but both the House and Senate measure is still listed as an action item. And while the Tohono O’odham Nation is not named in the legislation, because its casino is located in the Phoenix Metro area, it does fall into that category.
On March 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court ruling that determined the Tohono O’odham Nation could offer casino gaming at their Glendale casino, bringing it one step closer to being able to offer visitors a full-scale casino experience.