Tohono O’odham holding it’s ground on West Valley
Resort & Casino and will keep building
By Bette Sharpe Glendale Daily Planet 4-22-2015
Tohono O’odham will hold it’s ground on West Valley Resort &
Casino and will continue to build its $200 million facility despite
challenges of fraud and misrepresentation from the governor and the
department of gaming. Without certification from the Arizona Department of
Gaming, there would not be gaming in the West Valley at the Desert Diamond
West Valley Resort and Casino.
The progress the resort and casino has made since the ‘topping off’
ceremony in March at the construction site is noticeable. The project is
scheduled to open in December of this year.
However, the Tohono O’odham and the West Valley Resort faces
challenges from Governor Doug Ducy, Arizona Department of Gaming and some
member of Congress to halt the positive economic project.
Special interest from the East Valley, the Gila River Indian Community
and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribes are opposed to the casino near the
Westgate Entertainment District. The opposition might be to protect their
marketshare and there is the on-going disagreement regarding the keeping
or not keeping the promises (implied or otherwise) of Prop 202 (2002) has
created strong political and legal challenges for the Tohono O’odham
Nation and the future of the West Valley Resort and Casino.
Two giant resorts and casinos in the East Valley are the Gila River
Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino) and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa
(Talking Stick Resort).
Glendale Vice May Ian Hugh in his remarks at the press event said that
Glendale has already factored in revenue from the casino ($1.4 million) in
the next fiscal year.
West Valley leaders including Tolleson Mayor Adolfo Gamez, Glendale
Vice Mayor Ian Hugh, and Council member Sammy Chavira reiterated the
overwhelming support for the project in the West Valley.
Asking for local voter support, speakers at the event encouraged those
who are in favor of the resort and casino to contact the governor and let
him know how strongly people in the west valley want this to happen in the
From press release…
Despite this overwhelming support, and the more than a dozen court
rulings in favor of the Nation’s project, Governor Ducey has pressured
the Arizona Department of Gaming to disregard the clear terms of the
compact with the Nation. The Department’s action is in violation of a
federal court ruling and goes against the advice of the State’s own
expert on gaming law, Assistant Attorney General Roger Banan. Several
members of Congress, meanwhile, are threatening to move federal
legislation designed to halt construction of the project in order protect
the market share of two wealthy East Valley tribes.
Should these efforts succeed, 1,300 construction jobs will be lost and
Arizonans will be denied thousands of permanent jobs and hundreds of
millions of dollars in positive economic impacts that the project would
create. Passage of the federal legislation would also
deprive the State of millions of dollars in revenue, which goes to support
education, health care, and conservation across Arizona.
Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris, Jr. said, "It is
absurd to see elected officials working feverishly to take away thousands
of jobs from their constituents, even refusing to adhere to the compact
and a federal court ruling. The Nation is creating jobs and economic
benefits for all of Arizona, while some of our elected officials seem
focused only on protecting the market share of a few wealthy interests.
Support for this project is overwhelming and we will not be deterred from
our commitment to seeing this project through."
The Tohono O’odham Nation is a federally-recognized Indian tribe,
with reservation lands in Maricopa County, Pinal County, and Pima County,
Arizona. The West Valley Resort is located on the Nation's reservation
land at 95th and Northern avenues. It will generate thousands of new jobs
and more than $300 million in annual economic impact. For more
Ed Sharpe/Glendale Daily Planet no. 121337.
Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ted Norris, Jr. spoke at a press
conference on Wednesday, April 22, 2015 at the site of the West Valley
Resort. In February, Daniel Bergin, Director of the Arizona Department of
Gaming, sent a letter to Chairman Norris saying the Department of Gaming
would not recognize the West Valley casino unless it for proof that the
Nation did not commit fraud before the Arizona Department of Gaming would
issue certification, allowing gaming at the new casino just outside of
Glendale. Chairman Norris will not be deterred by these recent challenges.
He and others are asking the public to show their support of the West
Valley project by telling the governor.
Bette Sharpe/Glendale Daily Planet no. 3421.
The Tohono O’odham tribe’s West Valley Resort and Casino has
finished six months of construction and is in the first phase of building.
The $200 million project is scheduled to open at the end of the year.
Bette Sharpe/Glendale Daily Planet no. 3476.
Glendale Vice Mayor was one of the Glendale elected officials who spoke
in support of the Tohono O’odam’s press event on Wednesday, April 22,
2015. Arizona Department of Gaming said it would not allow the West Valley
casino to open in December unless the Tohono O’odham Nation could show
proof that it did not commit fraud when negotiating the 2002 gaming
A federal judge ruled in 2013 that the state’s 2002 gaming compact
does not exactly prohibit new casinos in the Phoenix area. This ruling is
under appeal at the 9th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals.