Tohono O’odham Nation Could Earn Approval for Slots and Table Gaming

Yesterday, several Native American tribes in Arizona as well as the Governor of the state, Doug Ducey, signed a memorandum of understanding that included several items, one of which was to allow the Tohono O’Odham Nation the right to add table games and slot machines to their casino in Glendale. The tribe announced plans to create the casino in Glendale many years ago, in the style of Las Vegas gaming. The plans were met with controversy as other Indian nations as well as the state felt the tribe would be in violation of the 2002 gambling compact of the state.

The agreement had been signed by the tribes and the state, restricting gambling within the Phoenix metro area, an area that was held in trust before February of 2003. The argument was that the casino in Glendale was not constructed on such land and should not be allowed to offer table games or slot machines.

The issue was taken to court and United States District Court Judge David Campbell agreed with the tribe many times, yet the casino opened with only Class II gaming machines. Such games appear as traditional slot machines but are different.

This new memorandum of understanding that was signed will allow the gambling venue in Glendale to offer gaming in the style of Las Vegas casinos, which will see the facility turned into a full-scale casino. However, in return, the Tohono O’odham tribe will not be able to secure additional casino gaming licenses in Phoenix.

Also part of the agreement is that the other Native American tribes involved will be able to add more poker tables and additional keno gaming. Gambling operations will have to be limited to reservation lands. State officials have said that the memorandum of understanding could be the beginning of modernizing the process of previous gambling compacts between the state and Indian tribes.

A representative from the Tohono O’odham nation was not on hand during the signing of the memorandum of understanding and in a statement yesterday, the tribe said they were recently informed of the discussions of a new compact but were not part of the process. They are concerned with the lack of communication but will consider the proposal by the state.


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