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Two Arizona Tribes Resign From Tribal Gaming Association

 Arizona Indian Gaming Association Two tribes in Arizona have decided to resign and give up their membership in being a part of the Arizona Indian Gaming Association (AIGA). The tribes have had a dispute with the AIGA regarding a new casino being built by another tribe. AIGA is a platform that brings together all tribes in the state to work together on issues related to tribal gaming.

The Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) and Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community are unhappy with the association for not taking action against the Tohono O'Odham Nation who have built a casino in West Valley and in doing so broken the existing compact.

In a statement, Delbert Ray, Salt Rive Pima-Maricopa President said,

In recent days, AIGA’s leadership has failed to speak out on what we consider the most important issue before Arizona’s tribes — the actions of the Tohono O’odham Nation to use deception and fraud to secretly obtain land, hide it in a shell corporation, and develop a new casino in Glendale, breaking the promises to other tribes, state officials and Arizona’s voters.

GRIC Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis stated that his community voted unanimously to walk out of the association. He said that the tribe decided to resign from the AIGA because the association remained silent on the issue and it no longer speaks for the entire community.

Responding to the resignation, AIGA said that it respected the right of every tribal government to act according to the best interests of its community. It added that it remained neutral on the issue of the West Valley casino despite its members having varied viewpoints.

After the departure of the two tribes, the AIGA would be left with 16 tribes as members. The Tohono O'odham tribe built its second casino in West Valley, a region near Phoenix after a winning a long court battle with the city of Glendaleas and also opposing tribes. The other tribes have been opposing the project because the Tohono O'odham went against the existing gaming compact which bars new casinos in the Phoenix area. Both the opposing tribes also operate rival casinos in the area.

The Tohono O'odham tribe released a statement stating that while the tribes were within their rights to withdraw from the association, their decision was against the goal of working together for promoting and unifying tribal gaming efforts. Amanda Jacinto spokeswoman for Arizona Department of Gaming said that although the authority was not aware of the split, the change in structure would henceforth be taken into account for its discussions with the tribes.

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