New casino gets a green light in Tucson

Would be built at I-10 and Grant
Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 6:53 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2772 this morning surrounded by tribal members from most of the state’s 22 Indian nations.

The bill extends the gaming compacts with the nations for another 20 years, allows for four more casinos and allows the tribes to add games, which had been prohibited in the past such as craps and fantasy sports betting. It will also allow the tribes to open sports books inside their casinos.

The 92-page compact specifically mentions a new casino for the Pascua Yaqui nation to be built at Interstate 10 and Grant Road on the site of a long-abandoned movie theater.

But before it can be built it would need Congressional approval, which could take months or longer, if ever.

The tribe sent us this statement this afternoon.

“The new gaming compact does allow for a new casino to be built, but the adoption of the compact does not guarantee it. The land will need to be taken into trust by the United States, which would require federal legislation to be passed. Development of a casino is not imminent, as additional steps must be taken before the process is final. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe looks forward to working with the City of Tucson on the potential development of the tribal land in the future.”

Many in the city see the development of a casino on the property as community development in an impoverished area. But as the former Tribal Chair Robert Valencia told us two years ago, “The casino is one of many possibilities.” He would not commit solely to a casino.

In signing the legislation, the governor also sees value in the economic development aspect.

“Gaming facilities provide tribes with funding sources that ensure self-sufficiency,” the governor said. “By supporting tribal education, health care, housing and other basic services like water.”

But he also stressed that the compacts, first negotiated by the state in 1992, create thousands of jobs and the new rules will likely add to that.

Under the compacts, the tribes are also required to give a percentage of their revenues to local communities for general charitable causes.

“There have been nearly $1.5 billion in total tribal contributions to the state, counties, cities and towns since the original compacts were signed,” Ducey said.

Because the legislation passed with a supermajority, it takes effect immediately.

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