Petitions Filed For 17-Tribe Gaming Initiative

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Petitions with more than 200,000 signatures supporting the Arizonans for Fair Gaming and Indian Self-Reliance initiative were filed last week. The initiative is expected to be titled Proposition 202.

The petitions qualify the 17-Tribe Indian Self-Reliance initiative for the November general election ballot. They were submitted to the Secretary of State's office July 4.

The initiative allows gaming to continue on tribal lands; shares gaming revenue with non-gaming tribes, the state and local governments; and provides additional regulatory oversight by the Arizona Department of Gaming.

Prop. 202 is one of three initiatives that will be on the November ballot, and the one supported by a coalition of 17 tribes representing more than 90 percent of tribal members living on reservations in Arizona.

The coalition includes the Tonto Apache Tribe of Payson, Ak-Chin Indian Community, Cocopah Tribe, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Fort Mojave Tribe, Gila River Indian Community, Havasupai Tribe, Hualapai Tribe, Kaibab-Paiute Tribe, Navajo Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Quechan Tribe, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Tohono O'odham Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe and the Yavapai-Apache Nation.

Hubert Nanty, executive director of the Tonto Apache Tribe's gaming office, has been working with the coalition for more than two years.

He said due to the legislature's failure to act on the compact proposed by the coalition and the governor, it is fortunate the voters now will have the opportunity to let their voices be known.

"The legislature could have fixed it. We made a good faith, honest effort and the legislature created more barriers than solutions," Nanty said.

With the voters' approval the coalition can move forward with a compact that satisfies the state's interests in regulating gaming, he said. It also makes it possible for state population rather than tribal population to dictate the number of slot machines allowed in Indian casinos, Nanty said.

"We worked very hard with the governor to come up with Proposition 202," Nanty said. "It is the most reasonable compact for the interests of the citizens of the state and provides a lot of protection for fair gaming."

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