Arizona tribes can't send gaming revenues directly to charities

The non-profit Native Seeds/SEARCH has benefited from gaming revenues shared by the Tohono O'odham Nation in Arizona. Photo from Facebook

Arizona tribes aren't supposed to share gaming revenues directly with charities, columnist Tim Steller of The Arizona Daily Star reports.

Under the Class III gaming compact, tribes share a portion of their revenues with the state and with local governments. Some funds also end up in the hands of charities and non-profits but the Arizona Gaming Department is questioning the practice.

“Contributions must be distributed directly to Arizona cities, towns, counties or the Commerce and Economic Development Commission Local Communities Fund,” the department said in a letter obtained by Steller. “Additionally, the funds may not be allocated to 501 (c)(3) organizations or other charitable entities because they do not provide ‘government services’ as a political subdivision of the state.”

According to the department, non-profits could still receive gaming revenues as long as the money is passed through by local governments. But tribes will likely have to change their grant processes in response to state's interpretation of the compact.

“They all have a process established for the 12 percent funds,” Valerie Spicer, executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association, told Seteller. “There’s a lot of great organizations that the tribes make contributions to.”

The 12 percent refers to portion that tribes share with cities, towns and counties. According to the department, tribes have shared $126.8 million since 2004.

The remaining 88 percent goes to the state. According to the department, tribes have shared $988.3 million since 2004.

In total, tribes with casinos have contributed $1.1 billion since 2004.

Get the Story:
Tim Steller: Charities fear loss of tribal gaming donations (The Arizona Daily Star 9/9)

Related Stories
Tribes in Arizona contribute $1.1B in gaming revenues to state (08/11)

Join the Conversation