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Arizona's Gaming Future Murky

6 November 2002

ARIZONA – As reported by the Arizona Central: "The 17-tribe proposal that would continue casino gambling on Arizona's Indian reservations maintained a narrow margin of victory late Tuesday, while two competing measures lost decisively.

"Proposition 202, endorsed by a who's who of public officials and organizations, found strong support in Pima County, as well as Apache County, home of the largest tribe, the Navajos. The measure narrowly lost its argument in voter-rich Maricopa County, but still held a narrow lead statewide.

"Meanwhile, Proposition 200, financed solely by the Colorado River Indian Tribes, was drawing more than five times as many `no' votes as it was getting `yes' votes.

"Proposition 201, sponsored by Arizona's racetrack industry, was doing slightly better, but still losing by a 4-1 ratio.

"Tribal backers were cautious as they saw an early lead for Proposition 202, stoked by mail-in ballots, slowly erode into a cliffhanger. Ballot propositions need 50 percent of the vote plus 1 to win.

"The measure would continue casino-style gambling on the reservations only, while directing a share of the proceeds to state coffers.

"…Proposition 201 sought voters' approval for the tracks to operate slot machines while also continuing tribal casinos.

"If 202 fails, the future of tribal casinos would be murky. Gaming agreements with the state begin to expire next summer, but few expect the popular casinos to be forced out of business.

"Instead, the tribes would likely sit down with the new governor to hammer out the next generation of gaming agreements. Whether the tribes continue to work together, or try to negotiate individual deals, was unclear Tuesday night…"

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