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Arizona Tribes, Governor Approve Gaming Deals

21 February 2002

ARIZONA – As reported by the Arizona Republic: "Indian tribes have agreed to a landmark deal with Gov. Jane Hull that would give the state an annual $83 million share of gambling profits in exchange for liberalized casino rules on the reservations.

"The gaming accord would legalize blackjack and allow tribes near Phoenix and Tucson to double the size of their casinos.

"The state could reap as much as $1 billion in casino taxes over the next 10 years, according to a report by the Howard Consulting Group of Reno.

"…`This is the only negotiated solution that all the tribes have agreed to,' said David LaSarte, executive director of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association. `This is what the tribes feel is a fair solution for everybody. If we don't get a resolution of these issues in the Legislature, then we might outline these concepts in an initiative.'

"The 23-year compact would confine gambling to reservation lands.

"It offers no relief to the state's racetracks, which have been lobbying for the right to run their own slot machines.

"…Other highlights of the agreement:

"A new ceiling of 998 slot machines per casino, up from the current 500. This is about half the amount in an average Las Vegas Strip megaresort. The total slot machines permitted in the state would remain at 14,675, although the agreement allows for greater concentrations at individual casinos.

"Rural tribes will be able to sell their unused slot rations to urban tribes, which could bring millions in new revenue to remote reservations.

"A progressive taxing scale that gives the state a 1 percent share of casino revenue up to $25 million and as much as an 8 percent cut of casino revenues that exceed $100 million

"…There will be a maximum of 29 casinos in the state.

"…The compacts will run for 20 years, provided that tribes offer "substantial compliance" with gaming laws.

"…The total gross gaming revenue at Indian casinos, previously a highly guarded secret, will be made public.

"…Despite the governor's black-or-white approach to the bill, it will run into interference in the Legislature.

"Senate President Randall Gnant criticized the accord for not being `a global solution to gaming.'…"

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