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Tohono O'odham Nation open to new Class III gaming compact

The Tohono O'odham Nation can't offer Class III games at its Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort in Glendale, Arizona, due to an ongoing dispute with the state. Photo from Facebook

The Tohono O'odham Nation is interested in resolving a long-running dispute over its casino in Arizona.

In a statement, the tribe said it wasn't included in talks for a new Class III gaming compact. But signing the deal would allow the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino and Resort to offer slot machines and related games, something it currently can't due to the ongoing dispute.

"The Nation stands ready to consider compact amendment language that would resolve the outstanding litigation, including the Class III issue at its west valley facility, and includes language regarding no new casinos in the Phoenix area during the current compact," the statement read.

Eight tribes signed the updated agreement on November 21. It bars new casinos in the Phoenix area, except for West Valley and the others already in operation, and it allows for an expansion of certain Class III games like Keno.

“The White Mountain Apache Tribe is confident that the compact amendment and future compact negotiations to modernize gaming in Arizona will have a positive impact upon Indian gaming in Arizona,” Chairman Ronnie Lupe of the White Mountain Apache Tribe said in a statement to The White Mountain Independent.

"The Indian gaming industry in Arizona provides $100 million a year to fund education, trauma centers, tourism and wildlife," President Russell Begaye of the Navajo Nation said in a press release. "The new negotiations with Arizona Gov. Ducey will keep more Arizonian dollars here within the state to keep funding these important programs."

The Navajo Nation was among the tribes that opposed the opening of the new Tohono O'odham Nation casino. Two other rivals, the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, also signed the updated agreement.

The Tohono O'odham Nation and the state are due back in federal court on December 14 for a hearing that could resolve the Class III issue. But Judge David Campbell -- after hearing about news accounts of the new deal -- has asked the parties to inform him whether a settlement is possible. Filings are due by Wednesday, according to a court order issued on Monday.

Read More on the Story:
Governor, tribes sign amended gaming compact (The White Mountain Independent 11/29)
Arizona Governor Proposes Deal with Tohono O’odham (Global Gaming Business News 11/27)
Ducey inks deal to ‘modernize’ tribal gaming compacts (Capitol Media Services 11/24)

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