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Arizona Native Gambling Measure Defeated

23 May 2002

PHOENIX, Arizona -- As reported by the Associated Press: "Members of the House have rejected a plan to extend casino operations on Indian reservations, which is likely to put the issue before voters this fall.

"On a 28-25 vote Wednesday, the House defeated a bill (SB1001) that outlined a deal negotiated by Gov. Jane Hull and 17 tribes. The vote fell short of the majority needed to pass the bill, but the tribes had been hoping for a two-thirds majority to protect the bill from a referendum election challenge.

"…While the tribes were scheduled to review their options this morning, it appears unlikely lawmakers will reverse their decision. That means the tribes' best hope rests with an initiative that would ask voters to approve essentially the same deal presented to the Legislature.

"'If we can't get 40 votes in the House, it's time for us to move forward with the initiative,' Arizona Indian Gaming Association Executive Director David LaSarte said. `It's very disappointing to us that something we spent 2 1/2 years on trying to make it a good deal for everyone in Arizona couldn't get through.'

"Hull, who met individually with legislators this week to rally support for the bill, was angered by Wednesday's vote and the effort by horse and dog racetrack officials to kill it. Track officials fear an expansion of Indian casinos and want slot machines of their own.

"…Without a bill from the Legislature, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Tucson, said Arizonans will have to sort through a complicated initiative campaign with competing proposals and millions of dollars in advertising…"

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