Glendale City Council Begins Formal Casino Negotiations With Tohono O'odham Nation

Categories: News

TON-West-Valley-Casino.jpg
One artist rendering of the Tohono O'odham Nation's proposed casino.


A Glendale City Council majority has agreed to begin formal negotiations with the Tohono O'odham Nation over its proposed West Valley casino -- a move that marks a dramatic change in the city's previous attitude toward the Native American tribe.

Nation leaders say that opening the door to "formal negotiations allows Glendale and the Nation to address concerns directly and work toward a beneficial agreement on the resort-casino project."

The TON has been knocking at Glendale's door since January 2009, when its chairman, Ned Norris, first announced his community's gaming plans.

See also:
-Proposed West Valley Casino Is Pitting Valley Indian Tribes Against One Another
-Wanna Bet? The TON Wants WV Casino -- Will Feds Break Their Promise to the Tribe?
-TON Win: Judge Affirms AZ Gaming Compact Doesn't Ban New Casinos in Phoenix

The previous Glendale officials, however, wasted no time in rejecting the idea of a resort-style casino near 91st and Northern avenues, an area close to Westgate, a city-spurred sports and entertainment complex.

"This is a different council," says Councilwoman Norma Alvarez. "We want to have a casino and resort near Glendale. It's going to bring people into Glendale who will spend money, and we desperately need that. We're so broke."

At the same City Council workshop, a majority of the council also voiced its opposition to HR 1410, a narrowly crafted proposal by Representative Trent Franks intended to stop the West Valley casino.

Frank's bill, which has stalled in the U.S. Senate, would prohibit any tribal casinos in the metro-Phoenix area until the existing gaming compacts expire in 2027.

Former Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs headed a council once obstinate in its opposition to the casino. But, newly elected ones like Alvarez welcome it, and hope it will spur new streams of revenue in their cash-strapped city.

Glendale has fallen on tough times after sinking hundreds of millions of dollars into sports-related projects that were sold to the public as sure-fire economic development drivers. The promised development -- and associated revenue streams -- have barely materialized.

Most recently, Glendale leaders agreed in July 2013 that they'd begin paying the owners of the Phoenix Coyotes $15 million a year to manage the city-owned building. And, they also pledged $50 million to the National Hockey League to keep the team in Glendale.

Glendale officials who are receptive to the casino hope to develop a financial partnership with the Nation.

But it's not going unnoticed.

In the wake of a series of court losses and Glendale's friendlier attitude toward the Tohono O'odham Nation's casino, casino opponents (other Indian tribes with gaming interests in the Valley) are ramping up their rhetoric.

The Salt River Pima-Marioca Indian Community released a statement announcing that "more" Arizona mayors want to see Congress take action on 'off-reservation' gaming.

The usual list of anti-casino mayors from Scottsdale, Tempe, Litchfield Park, Gilbert and Glendale grew by two. Now, the mayors from Apache Junction and Fountain Hills are on board with Franks proposed law.

There may be two new mayors on the roster, but their talking points haven't changed: Bad things will happen "if the Tohono O'odham Nation continues to ignore commitments made," says Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.

A federal judge already ruled that there are no promises getting broken by the Tohono O'odham Nation's plans because the voter-approved tribal-state compact that regulate gaming in Arizona doesn't contain any such promises.

Mitchell also says the Nation plans to erect its casino "within the city limits of Glendale."

Not exactly true.


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9 comments
j.schnaubelt
j.schnaubelt

AZ Tribal Casinos are nothing but predatory gambling, masked by the foggy notion that one group of voting State citizens can put an initiative on the ballot (Prop 202) that allows that group to commit felonious behavior against all other groups of citizens. Prop 202 passed by only 20K votes in 2002, and to call that the "Indian Vote", when Arizona has 300K Natives within it's borders, would be neither inappropriate or inaccurate. 


Casino gambling, like slots and blackjack, where the house has the edge and never loses in the long run, is a viable form of entertainment for your expendable income. But the expendable income of the State's citizens is not an inexhaustible purse. For every $1 spent at a tribal casino, that's $1 not spent in the community at restaurants, bars, retail and commercial businesses. and for every $1 spent at a tribal casino, the State sees only about 4¢ going to the euphemistically named special interest "Arizona Benefits Fund", created by tribal gaming interests in Prop 202. For every $1 spent outside of tribal casinos, the State and local municipalities see in excess of 11¢ generally, because such transactions can be taxed. Tribes cannot be taxed.


And keep in mind that there is no taxpayer oversight of these moribund BIA gambling havens. Who is watching the watchers (ADOG) when the watchers are 100% funded by those they are supposed to be watching? Another oxymoron created by the tribal gaming interested through Prop 202's passage by the Indian vote.


It's time Arizonan's wised up and now is the time for lawmakers to act, with all State-Tribal gaming compacts up for renewal. Let's hope the new governor has the fortitude to do the right thing and make some sweeping changes to the one-sided compact that has existed since 2003.

ssn0
ssn0

Maybe, idiot Republicans like Franks and Scweikert will stop their attacks now.

Comanche_Moon
Comanche_Moon

Finally a place to spend my unemployment check. I hope the restaurant takes EBT.  

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

The right-wing pukes in Glendale who elected their Knack, Weiers, et al should be given all the vitriol we can muster - they tried to keep this casino from benefiting our community because they had vested interests in their corner, donating campaign funds to help re-elect them.  Weiers specifically RAILED against the sales tax increase and led a campaign to repeal it - now he's saying Glendale has to have an even higher sales tax increase.  We all know what he said about the Casino and NOW - he's done a complete 180.  Glendale voters, you lost a good mayor when you did not elect Cruz - Weiers is a  louse!


royalphoenix
royalphoenix

Good for the TO. I hope Peoria gets the utilities. peace

phxjustice
phxjustice

Too bad the City of Glendale chose to waste the millions of dollars fighting this casino/resort.

eric.nelson745
eric.nelson745 topcommenter

It's all about money? No, that can't be.

brillo
brillo

@phxjustice ITS AMAZING CITY IS BANKRUPT AND HAS FOUGHT JOBS AND A BOOST FOR THE WEST VALLEY //// IDIOTS FIGHTING CASINO INSTEAD THE CITY HAS RAISED PROPERTY TAXES TO CREATE A BAND AID/ SHORT TERM FIX./HERE WE COME DETROIT HOPEFULLY MONEY WILL PREVAIL INSTEAD OF A GLENDALE BANKRUPTCY.

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