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Political prohibition fuels license farce

  • 2 min to read

At this point, it should be clear to anyone that an organized effort is being put forth to stop the Desert Diamond Casino-West Valley from obtaining a state-issued liquor license.

To use a time-worn phrase, it does not take a rocket scientist to detect an obvious attempt to keep the state liquor board from holding a hearing, at which time, an attorney specializing in liquor law would be able to present a case that should result in a positive decision and award of a license by the state liquor board.

Instead, the state liquor department continues its “investigation” of the casino application, even as the same applicant’s name appears on four other liquor licenses issued by the state.

It is understood that each license application is investigated separately. Each site has its own identity, and individual businesses and individuals with different ideas about whether the site is suitable for a liquor license. If there is just one protest filed on an application, a hearing has to be held before the state liquor board.

But, this application has been in the works for almost six months. The protests were filed between Aug. 21 and Sept. 2. That’s just two weeks. The application was filed July 6.

Other than the obvious, “It’s right next to a school,” what other reason could there be to protest this one particular license?

And to that protest, consider this: The Peoria Unified School District did not file a complaint.

We would wager there are more underage individuals buying alcohol in a day at local convenience stores and retailers than there would be underage individuals trying to access the casino, let alone buy a drink, in a year’s time. There is a security force at the entrance checking anyone who even appears to be underage. Where are the security people at the convenience stores and retailers?

Still, the question remains: Why is it taking so long for the investigation of the liquor license applicant? Does anyone really believe this lengthy investigation is a coincidence?

It all comes back to politics.

Gov. Doug Ducey, in his state of the state address, emphasized his desire to encourage economic development in the state. Perhaps he should have clarified that to mean “in the state, except for the West Valley.” Because, it is clear that the longer this situation with the West Valley casino drags on, the more it becomes evident there are politics at play. The West Valley gets to play second fiddle again.

It is more than disheartening. It is difficult to describe the word games played by state officials. True, some investigations take longer than others, but five months?

We received no clear explanation about why that is the case with the Desert Diamond Casino-West Valley application.

It seems there is no reason, other than political, that the casino should not receive its liquor license. It has the historical background of a Native American tribe’s efforts to get back on its feet after being flooded out by the federal government. It has signed an agreement to pay the City of Glendale an enormous amount per year ($1.4 million) over a 10-year period, and extend that agreement beyond 2026. It has agreed to share revenues with local communities, not just Glendale, even though its present Class II casino license does not require it.

Likely, the state is holding out hope that it will win its claim in Federal District Court on the Nation’s right to game at the 95th and Northern avenues site.

Nobody can predict what the court will eventually decide.

But one thing is certain: The state is playing petty politics this go-round.

There is this observation. Drive by the Desert Diamond Casino-West Valley any time of the day or night, any day of the week. The parking lot is full or almost full, no matter when you drive by.

One thing you can count on at that particular casino: a good, fresh cup of coffee, a soft drink, or a bottle of water at no charge. And, just this week, they had a job fair; they need more employees. The casino is doing its part of trying to provide jobs in the West Valley.

We wish the state would do the same.