Arizona tribes applaud Keep the Promise passage

By a supermajority, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1410, The Keep the Promise Act, this week. Tribes say the move reaffirms the commitments made to Arizona voters who voted “yes” on Proposition 202 – the Indian Gaming and Self-Reliance Act of 2002. H.R. 1410.

The Keep the Promise Act, which now moves on to the U.S. Senate, would prohibit Indian casinos from opening in Arizona neighborhoods and prevent any additional casinos from opening in metropolitan Phoenix until at least the expiration of the current, voter-approved tribal gaming compacts.

One Arizona Tribe – the Tohono O’odham Nation – has proposed a casino to be located in the middle of a Glendale neighborhood. In turn, that casino has been opposed by the City of Glendale, Arizona’s governor and Attorney General, as well as the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, the Gila River Indian Community, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Pueblo of Zuni and grassroots activists and citizens statewide.

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Gila River Indian Community, the Pueblo of Zuni, and the Cocopah Tribe stand with other Arizona tribes and many other elected officials in commending the quick action by the U.S. House of Representatives in passing H.R. 1410.

“Arizona tribes who came together more than a decade ago to create a model gaming compact with the State of Arizona recognize the importance of today’s vote,” said Diane Enos, President, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “H.R. 1410 is a simple bill that protects the comprehensive gaming policy in our state that was agreed to by 17 tribes. There is much anticipation for the same level of support in the U.S. Senate.”

“The Keep The Promise Act,” said Gov. Gregory Mendoza of the Gila River Indian Community, “This measure will hold every Tribe in Arizona accountable to the 2002 promise struck by Tribes and the voters of this state: To have gaming only on traditional tribal lands and to keep casinos out of neighborhoods and away from homes, schools and places of worship.

“Without H.R. 1410, the broken promises of one tribe could seriously impact our state and upset the balance of Indian gaming in Arizona. The House acted wisely and with the full support of tribal communities across Arizona and the nation. I very much hope the U.S. Senate follows suit.”

“Passage of H.R. 1410 will ensure the integrity of the existing tribal state gaming compacts, which for a non-gaming tribe like ours, means revenue from a machine transfer agreement that is dedicated to funding critical tribal programs,” said Arlen Quetawki, Governor, Pueblo of Zuni. “If the state tribal gaming policy is disrupted by an off-reservation gaming proposal, as is the situation in the City of Glendale, we all stand to lose.”

“The action of the House of Representatives to pass HR 1410 underscores their support for the gaming policy that was established in 2002 in Arizona,” said Sherry Cordova, Chairwoman, Cocopah Tribe. “Seventeen tribes negotiated in good faith with one another and with the State of Arizona to create a successful framework that has worked for over a decade. HR 1410 will ensure the promises made are promises that are kept.”

H.R. 1410 was introduced by Arizona Congressional Representatives Trent Franks, Ed Pastor, Ann Kirkpatrick, Paul Gosar, David Schweikert and Matt Salmon in collaboration with Representatives Jared Huffman, John Conyers and Dan Kildee. It is endorsed by many Arizona tribes because it assures that the terms of the current compacts are kept intact.

H.R. 1410 will allow the voter-approved compacts to remain intact. These include:

• Indian casinos would be kept out of neighborhoods;

• Each tribe agreed to a specific casino allocation; some even gave up rights to additional casinos in order to limit the number within the state; and

• As stated by then Governor Jane Dee Hull in the Prop 202 voter education pamphlet issued by the Arizona Secretary of State, “Voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 202 ensures that no new casinos will be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area and only one in the Tucson area for at least 23 years.”

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