Litigation | Openings and Closings
State admits destroying records in Tohono O'odham Nation fight



Tohono O'odham Nation leaders cut the ribbon on the new Desert Diamond Casino - West Valley in Glendale, Arizona, on December 20, 2015. Photo from Facebook

An ongoing lawsuit in federal court continues to expose some shady dealings on the part of the state of Arizona in its fight against the Tohono O'odham Nation.

In filings first reported by Capitol Media Services, an attorney working for the state admitted that he destroyed records of meetings with rival tribes. Why? Because they wanted to keep the information a "secret."

"Well, we're pretty much an open book. I wasn't so worried about that," assistant attorney general Roger Banan said in the August 23 deposition, which was taken under oath and videotaped.

"It was the tribes that seemed to be the most interested in -- in keeping things secret," Banan added.


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

Those tribes are the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. They have made no secret of their opposition to the Tohono O'odham Nation's casino but their dealings with the state have been described as "troubling" by the judge who is handling the case.

The Tohono O'odham Nation is concerned too. The tribe is asking Judge David Campbell to impose sanctions against the Arizona Department of Gaming, the defendant in the case.

"The meetings between a regulator and representatives of tribes with regulated gaming operations to coordinate efforts to block a competitor from opening a competing facility raise serious questions of regulatory fairness that have troubled this court," a motion filed on Wednesday reads.

The tribe opened the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort last December after overcoming numerous political, legal and regulatory hurdles. But the facility can only offer Class II games because the Arizona Department of Gaming won't certify it under the Class III gaming compact. The lawsuit aims to resolve that issue.

Desert Diamond West Valley is located on the west side of Phoenix. Gila River and Salt River operate casinos on other sides of Phoenix, the largest city in Arizona.

Read More on the Story:
Destruction of state attorney's notes complicates O'odham casino fight (Capitol Media Services 9/15)
Secret meetings, destroyed notes in West Valley casino dispute (The Arizona Republic 9/15)

An Opinion:
EJ Montini: State’s sleazy secret war against one tribe’s casino (The Arizona Republic 9/15)

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