Saturday, March 12, 2016

Arizona Native American Caucus discusses tribal gaming

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX The Native American Caucus met recently to discuss tribal gaming in Arizona.  Judy Ferreira and Valerie Spicer from the Arizona Indian Gaming Association presented to the caucus.
Tribal gaming contributes to the state in a financially significant way. The revenue made in tribal gaming facilities is shared with the state. This money contributes to cities, towns, counties, tourism, wildlife conservation, trauma and emergency services, and education. 
Rep. Sally Ann Gonzales, D-Tucson (District 3), appreciated the reminder of how important tribal gaming is to Arizona.
“Tribal gaming continues to be an economic force for all Arizonans,” Gonzales said. “The jobs and money it contributes benefit more people than those in Native American communities.”
In 2003, Arizona voters passed Proposition 202 that outlined the agreements between the state and Indian Nations that engage in tribal gaming. The proposition prohibits the state from expanding other gaming. If such an expansion were to happen, the amount of revenue the state would receive from tribal gaming decreases dramatically, from as much as eight percent to as low as 0.75 percent.
The caucus discussed legislation that may jeopardize this voter-protected agreement. SB 1515 would allow fantasy sports league betting in Arizona. Attendees discussed this as an expansion of gaming in the state and were told cost Arizona millions of dollars. The bill didn’t make it through the committee process, but caucus members expressed concern about it returning this legislative session.
Rep. Jennifer D. Benally, D-Tuba City (District 7), discussed the significance of tribal gaming in the state.
“Tribal gaming is integral to the Arizona economy,” Benally said. “It’s a great example of cooperation between the state and the Native communities. I don’t want to see this cooperation end, so I hope efforts to undermine the gaming compact are stopped.”
Rep. Albert Hale, D-St. Michaels (District 7), wants the cooperation to continue to grow and benefit both parties.

"This is money that the Indian Nations are contributing to the state,” Hale said. “When tax revenues are distributed, very little is returned to the Indian Nations. We need to be sure that everyone gets their fair share.”