Litigation | Public Relations
Judge turns tables on state in Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case

A view of the gaming floor at the Desert Diamond Casino West Valley in Glendale, Arizona. Photo from Facebook

After the state of Arizona forced the Tohono O'odham Nation to turn over internal documents, a judge is requiring the same of the state as part of a gaming dispute.

At issue is an email between the Arizona Department of Gaming and an attorney for the Gila River Indian Community. The state and the tribe have been working together in hopes of stopping the Tohono O'odham Nation from opening a new casino.

The state tried to prevent the release of the email but Judge David Campbell denied the request. He said it could help address questions about the relationship between the department and the Gila River Indian Community.

"The court also finds troubling the notion that a state regulatory body could join in a privilege-protected partnership with one of the entities it regulates to thwart expansion efforts of another entity it regulates, whether or not the regulatory body has a valid basis for opposing the expansion," Campbell wrote in a July 25 order. "That appears to be what is happening here."

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

The state complied with the order on July 28, according to a notice filed in court. But unlike documents that the Tohono O'odham Nation turned over to the state -- which ended up in the hands of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, whose public relations company then gave them to a reporter for Capitol Media Services -- the email in question has remained under wraps.

The Gila River and Salt River tribes were unable to stop the Tohono O'odham Nation from opening the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort in December. The state, though, has refused to certify the new facility for Class III games or allow liquor to be served there.

Read More on the Story:
Judge questions gaming director’s action in Glendale casino case (Capitol Media Services 8/9)

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