Arizona Governor Threatens Not to Certify Glendale Casino

Nothing else has worked, so Arizona Governor Doug Ducey (l.) is going to try stopping the Tohono O’Odham tribe from operating a casino in Glendale by refusing to certify the tribe’s gaming machines. A lawsuit is expected to result.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey declared last week that if the Tohono O’Odham Nation opens its casino in Glendale as planned in December that the state may decline to certify their slot machines.

He is basing his decision on the claim that the Tohono’s deceived the public about its intentions when voters approved of gaming compacts in 2002. The public narrowly approved of the compacts because they were told that no more than seven casinos would be built in the valley that includes Phoenix.

In exchange for those restrictions voters granted tribes a monopoly on offering gaming. The governor and other opponents claim that then Chairman Ned Norris planned to violate that principle even as voters were given the assurance that gaming would be limited.

The tribe bought land under the radar near Glendale and then petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to put it into trust.

These actions have been challenged unsuccessfully by the state and by some tribes who don’t want the additional competition, including the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.

Last week Arizona’s Department of Gaming Director Daniel Bergin said that his agency would not “proceed with any certification or approval processes relating to the opening or operation of the tribe’s Glendale casino.”

Such an action by a state may be unprecedented and creates more questions than answer as to a possible outcome. One outcome is almost certain: the tribe will sue in federal court to try to force the state to certify the machines. So far the tribe has never lost a case related to this casino in court.