Our View: Did Arizona win in Glendale casino deal? It’s up to Ducey — Arizona Republic

Editorial: Ending the lawsuit was a victory, but the real potential for gain depends on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s negotiating skills.

 

The deal that ended a lawsuit over a West Valley casino is being called a “win-win.”

Clearly, the Tohono O’odham won their full-blown casino in Glendale.

Gov. Doug Ducey’s negotiating skills will ultimately determine exactly what Arizona won.

No matter what comes next, Arizona will benefit from ending this long-running legal battle.

The settlement ends all lawsuits over the Tohono O’Odham’s casino in Glendale.

This avoids a legal battle that could have continued for years, racking up billable hours on both sides, using precious resources and prolonging an atmosphere of acrimony that serves no one.

The settlement provides closure. It creates the environment in which tribes that had differences can begin healing the rifts that had developed.

Tohono O’Odham Chairman Edward Manuel said Arizona gets more entertainment, more business and more jobs as a result of allowing the tribe to proceed with plans he says they had every right to pursue.

These are good things.

Did the state really win any concessions?

But it’s hard to shake the feeling that Arizona picked a fight, lost and got few concessions.

The state opposed the Tohono O’Odham casino in the West Valley, arguing the tribe had not been upfront about why it quietly acquired land in metro Phoenix on which it intended to build a casino.

In response, the state withheld permission to operate the kind of Class 3 gaming activities available at other tribal casinos.

While legal challenges played out, the Tohono O’Odham’s West Valley casino near Glendale opened in 2015 with limited bingo-based slot machines.

 The settlement announced last week smooths the way for Class 3 gaming – that is, with slot machines, blackjack and house-banked poker – and a liquor license, which is what the Tohono O’Odham wanted all along.
The tribe has been running the limited Glendale operation in a 60,000 square-foot building that was meant as a warehouse. Once the secretary of the Interior signs off on the settlement, the Tohono O’Odham can begin construction on 2-million square foot casino, resort and hotel.

In return, the tribe agreed not to build another metro Phoenix casino in the near term.

Read the full editorial at the Arizona Republic.