Proposed Tribal Gaming Compact Amendments Could End Feud Over Valley Casino Project

By Carrie Jung
Published: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 5:21pm
Updated: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 6:30pm
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(Photo by Carrie Jung - KJZZ)
Leaders of 8 of Arizona's gaming tribes signed the memorandum of understanding Monday.

A long-standing feud over whether the Desert Diamond Casino in the West Valley can offer Las Vegas-style gambling may soon be settled. Gov. Doug Ducey and leaders of Arizona’s gaming tribes signed a memorandum of understanding today to begin negotiations to amend the state’s gaming compact.

The proposed amendments are a compromise, of sorts, intended to settle an ongoing legal battle with the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose newest casino in the Glendale area stirred controversy among area gaming tribes who said its location is a breach of the 2002 state gaming compact.

"This is going to allow us to get past the West Valley casino issues," said Stephen Roe Lewis, the governor of the Gila River Indian Community, a southern Arizona tribe that has historically opposed the West Valley casino development. "And also, what Governor Ducey termed 'modernizing' the gaming compact."

The proposal would increase the number of keno games allowed in tribal casinos as well as the number of poker tables permitted. It also explicitly limits any new casino construction in the Phoenix area.

Ducey added the move is also vital to healing the integrity of the original agreement.

"I sincerely hope that all the tribes will come together and approve these promises in the hopes of once again creating an environment that benefits every tribe," he said.

Officials with the Tohono O’odham Nation were not at the signing ceremony at the Capitol but did say in a written statement that they would consider the proposal.

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