Arizona, Tohono O’odham Nation Settle Glendale Casino Dispute

The Tohono O’odham Nation and the State of Arizona jointly announced on Wednesday an agreement to settle their dispute regarding the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley near the City of Glendale.

Sen. John McCain praised the agreement but said he was opposed “to oppose the air-dropping of Indian casinos on land that is not contiguous to an existing reservation, the agreement reached by Governor Ducey and the Tohono O’odham Tribe brings to an end years of prolonged litigation over this issue and eliminates the need for federal legislation. The controversy involving the Tohono O’odham gaming facility in Glendale has divided Arizona’s Indian tribes for years, and I hope this agreement will heal those divisions.”

Under this agreement, the Nation will move forward with Class III gaming at its West Valley facility under the tribal-state gaming compact. The State will process the West Valley facility’s Class III gaming certification and liquor license in the normal course of the regulatory process. The State has also agreed that it will not oppose the Nation’s efforts to have its land immediately adjacent to the West Valley facility taken into trust.

In exchange, the Nation has agreed not to conduct Class II or Class III gaming anywhere else in a designated geographical area that includes metropolitan Phoenix during the term of the agreement. Additionally, although the Nation will retain its ability to acquire new reservation land under the terms of Public Law 99-503, known as the “Gila Bend Indian Reservation Lands Replacement Act,” the Nation also has agreed not to request that the Secretary of the Interior take any other land in that area into trust for the purpose of gaming during the agreement term. These restrictions will terminate if federal or state legislation is enacted that bars the Nation from conducting Class II or Class III gaming on the West Valley land, or if another tribe conducts Class III gaming on new trust lands in the designated geographical area.

As part of the agreement, the State and the Nation will amend their existing compact to confirm that the Nation may conduct Class III gaming at one gaming facility on its West Valley land, but nowhere else within the designated geographical area. This compact amendment must be reviewed and approved or deemed approved by the Secretary of the Interior before the settlement agreement becomes effective.

This agreement will last for the remainder of the term of the Nation’s current tribal-state gaming compact plus the term of any successor compact or, if there is no successor compact, for 15 years after this agreement becomes effective.

The agreement puts to rest the last pending lawsuit over the West Valley facility without any further legislative or legal action. As part of the agreement ending the litigation, all parties will bear their own attorneys’ fees for all of the legal proceedings relating to this dispute.

Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward D. Manuel said, “This is a day the Nation has long been working toward. It establishes an agreement concerning the Nation’s right to conduct Class III gaming on its West Valley land and it brings to an end the final dispute that was constraining this important project. The Nation is eager to continue with its West Valley investment to create thousands of new jobs, positive economic development, and a world-class casino resort that all of Arizona can be proud of.”

11 Comments on "Arizona, Tohono O’odham Nation Settle Glendale Casino Dispute"

  1. The time is now to get rid of these gaming pacts all together. This is a sweet heart deal that Meyer Lansky would be proud to be part of.

  2. Mike Putfus | May 18, 2017 at 11:52 am |

    Over ten thousand acres of land plus water rights was taken from them on the reservation, and they were allowed a small amount of land where they could generated funds for the Tribe to help them. They bought land no one else wanted, and for that political figures in the City, and State fought them. Even when the area and State will get a large percentage of the profits the Tribe will generate from it.

    • Jerome R Petruk | May 18, 2017 at 8:38 pm |

      Mike you are either very gullible or a paid representative of the tribe. The land was very desirable. The city of Glendale and the State of Arizona both had good reason to oppose this casino. Contrary to the tribal gaming pact, this land was very remote from Tohono O’odham land. The Tribe took their case to the Federal courts. OK. They are a separate nation and as such have standing there. But everyone knows that the 9th Circuit is so anti Arizona, that if Arizona said the Sun is bright, the 9th would find the Sun to be dark. Is that justice?

      • Mike Putfus | May 19, 2017 at 8:40 am |

        I was there when the State agreed to allow them that area of land, and it was listed at three percent of it’s value now. While I’m no fan of the 9th they have every right to use the Court systems, and the City/State didn’t object till the land was taken under Trust land for the Tribe in exchange for what they lost.

  3. Jerome R Petruk | May 18, 2017 at 8:29 pm |

    What concerns me is that every word of this article refers to this particular tribe. Toronto O’odham. The wording does not refer to any other tribe. So there is an agreement with this tribe. What prevents any other from trading outlier land from other land closer to Phoenix or Tucson and demanding the same thing? The only way out of this mess is to give all legitimate parties (Native or not) the right to establish a gaming facility. As it is now, Arizona has defaulted gaming to the tribes. Yes, the tribes were screwed for many years. But that’s no reason to screw good companies like Turf Paradise from a chance to compete on level ground.

  4. Mike Putfus | May 19, 2017 at 8:32 am |

    First off only a federally recognized Tribe can have anything that will generate funds for their Tribe, and that’s less than half of all the Tribes in this Country. Even then the State (For a large percent of the profits) as well as both houses of Congress then the BIA along with the BLM has to agree to everything. If it’s off their reservation land the same goes for it to be approved along with the land to be taken into trust for the Tribe under the BLM. Often for giving up something like a larger percentage of their reservation land, water rights and so on. Without the Federal recognition for the Tribe not even a member of the Tribe can sell anything as American Indian/Native American.

  5. another worthless agreement for the citizens let the tribe set the slots any way they want so long as there is electricity its fair gaming great for the tribe bad for the state in the long run grat job more poor citizens

  6. what a shame hand the state the money and dont regulate the slots

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