Tohono O'odham Nation faces counterclaims in gaming litigation

Artist's rendering of the West Valley Resort under construction in Glendale, Arizona. Image from WVR

The state of Arizona last week filed a series of counterclaims against the Tohono O'odham Nation as part of a gaming lawsuit in federal court.

The counterclaims raise many of the same arguments the state lost in a different lawsuit. The main issue is whether the tribe promised not to open a casino in the Phoenix area.

In May 2013, Judge David Campbell ruled that the Class III gaming compact does not include such a promise. But that didn't stop the state Department of Gaming from bringing the issue up again in its October 8 filing.

"The Nation has an obligation not to open any new Class III gaming facilities in the Phoenix metropolitan area," attorneys for Daniel Bergin, the director of the department, asserted in the filing.

Arizona Casino Wars: Tribes battle over new gaming facility in the Phoenix area

The West Valley Resort is set to open in December but the facility will be limited to Class II games because Bergin refuses to certify it. The tribe filed the lawsuit in hopes of securing its right to Class III games at the site.

The casino is located in Glendale, a suburb on the western side of Phoenix, on land that was placed in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in July 2014. The property was acquired in connection with a land claim settlement.

For that reason, Campbell's May 2013 ruling held the site can be used for a casino under the land claim exception in Section 20 of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The state of Arizona is appealing the decision.

Get the Story:
Top gaming official launches new legal bid to prevent Glendale casino (Capitol Media Services 10/10)

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