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Stop state charade, let the games begin

  • 2 min to read

What happens when a lawyer is working on your case and gives privileged information about such to another attorney representing his client, who just happens to be your opponent in court?

Unless ordered by the court to hand over the information, the action by your attorney is called collusion.

Federal District Judge David Campbell wrote his ruling last week that the State Gaming Department’s director did just that: colluded with an attorney for Gila River Indian Community based in Washington, D.C. to block the issuance of a Class III gaming license to the Tohono O’odham Nation for a casino in the West Valley.

This is a serious matter. It appears the State Gaming Department may have a problem on its hands. It wants to settle the gaming issue with the Tohono O’odham Nation, and at the same time, avoid fluttering any feathers in the camp of East Valley tribes.

So, perhaps State Gaming Director Daniel Bergin got as close as he could to the power in our nation’s capitol. One could easily surmise that U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, who is adamantly opposed to the casino in the West Valley, is aware of the exchange of information between the GRIC and the Arizona SGD. After all, a State Gaming Department spokesperson said all of Bergin’s correspondence is public record and anyone could request and receive that information; all they had to do was ask.

The only problem is, how do you know what to ask for if you do not know what is going on? Was the exchange between Bergin and GRIC leaked?

As many people may suspect, the Native American contingent in Arizona is quite influential. Indian gaming is a very lucrative business, and all of the casinos contribute a substantial amount of money to the state’s coffers as part of a deal struck when the gaming compact was approved by voters in 2002.

Proposition 202 has been a nice revenue source to which the Tohono O’odham Nation has contributed. Its casinos in Pima County contribute millions of dollars each year to the state’s coffers. And the Nation has already given the City of Glendale $1.2 million, without any obligation to do so.

The Nation could contribute even more with the opening of its proposed Class III casino at 95th and Northern avenues. There are, however, opponents to this action.

It appears a regulated entity – in this case, the GRIC – has power over the regulator, the State Gaming Department. If not power, then perhaps, influence. Or, so it appears in Campbell’s ruling.

This is just one more curious, but predictable, delay in the Tohono O’odham Nation’s fight to open a Class III casino in the West Valley. This battle has been going on since February 2009.

It’s about time the State of Arizona grew up and dropped this charade, pretending it is all bent out of shape by the Tohono O’odham Nation’s audacity, temerity, persistence, downright gall in its pursuit of the Class III casino license.

Issue the license and put this situation behind you, state officials. And, while you’re at it, issue the liquor license to the Desert Diamond Casino-West Valley that your agencies have purposely delayed.

There are greater problems facing our state and local municipal and county officials. We need jobs and an economic boost in the West Valley, not another ongoing court case.