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Arizona Casino Cash Helps Reduce Reservations' Poverty

14 December 2004

ARIZONA – As reported by the Arizona Business Journal: "Life on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is a study in contradiction. Like many of the Native American reservations in Arizona that offer gaming, the difference between the decadence of the casinos compared to the poor living conditions of those who live on the reservation is startling.

"Trips through the Salt River reservation and its casinos and time talking to those who live on the land, put in focus the extraordinary poverty in which many of the community's 7,500-plus people live. Poverty is a serious problem on reservations across the state and the country, but gaming slowly is beginning to improve the poor conditions.

"As the Salt River community's two casinos continue to thrive to the tune of about $280 million in revenue annually, profits have been used to build an impressive new high school and to make other improvements on the reservation.

"…Tribal leaders say casino profits greatly benefit the infrastructure of the reservation, but the tribe can't control what individuals do with their share. The per capita gift to tribal members seems to both help and greatly complicate matters.

"Another perplexing reality of the widespread poverty on tribal land is the amount of new jobs created by gaming. Estimates show the casinos have added more than 9,000 jobs in the state. But officials say only 43 percent of the casino jobs are filled by Native Americans, who are given a preference in hiring.

"It remains to be seen if the casinos can profoundly improve the quality of life on Arizona's Indian reservations in the years to come, but it can't be denied there is a long way to go…"

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