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Tohono O'odham Nation poised for win in long-running casino feud



Leaders from seven Arizona tribes sign a new Class III gaming compact at the state capitol on November 21, 2016. Photo courtesy Gov. Doug Doucey

It looks like the long-running dispute over the Tohono O'odham Nation and its new casino is finally coming to an end.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Monday announced an agreement to allow Class III gaming at the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort. The tribe has not yet signed the compact but doing so would resolve a years-long battle over the legality of the facility.

"We're modernizing the tribal gaming compact to meet the changing needs of #AZ & to increase the opportunities for tribal gaming," Ducey wrote on Twitter on Monday afternoon as leaders of other tribes signed the agreement.

Significantly, the leaders of three tribes that opposed the Tohono O'odham casino signed the updated compact. The Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community were part of the ceremony at the state capitol on Monday.

"Today we reaffirm the promise we made 15 years ago that Indian gaming would be limited, well-regulated and there would be no additional casinos in the Phoenix metropolitan area," Salt River President Delbert W. Ray, Sr., said in a press release. He also posted a video announcement on the tribe's website.

Gila River Governor Stephen Roe Lewis explained why he signed the compact in a video posted on Facebook. He said it would authorize the tribe to add more table games and Keno games at its facilities.

The new agreement bars new tribal casinos in the Phoenix area. But it contains an exemption for the Tohono O'odham Nation's facility, which debuted to large crowds last December.

The state, though, has refused to certify the casino for Class III games. The state also has refused to issue a liquor license there.

Read More on the Story:
Gov. Ducey announces new deal with tribal casinos (KTAR 11/21)
State OKs full-scale gaming at Tohono O'odham's Glendale casino (Capitol Media Services 11/21)
Deal would end fight over Glendale tribal casino (KPNX 11/21)

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