Tonto Apaches Offer Free Food, With A Little Education

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The Arizona Legislature buried 30 months of work by 17 of the state's Native American tribes and the governor when it failed to pass the gaming compact law.

Now voters are facing three ballot initiatives on gaming in November's general election.

During the last 30 months, Tonto Apache Tribal Chairperson Vivian Burdette and Hubert Nanty, of the tribe's gaming authority, traveled around the state working with Arizonans For Fair Gaming and Indian Self-Reliance, negotiating the compact legislation.

Now they and other tribal council members are turning their attention to educating resident and visiting voters about the initiative originating from the work on the gaming compact.

All day Friday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., the Mazatzal Casino is having an open house with free food for all tribal employees and residents from Payson and the surrounding communities. The purpose is to provide important information regarding the future of Indian gaming.

The Flag Day celebration will give everyone a chance to either sign a petition to get the Arizona Indian Self-Reliance Initiative on the November ballot or register to vote, and then sign a petition.

More than 100,000 signatures are needed, Nathaniel Campbell, court administrator and spokesman for the tribal council, said.

The initiative will authorize the continuation of Indian gaming in Arizona and preserve and enhance the benefits of gaming for all Arizonans, according to a report from Arizonans for Fair Gaming.

This initiative is the only measure that is supported by 17 tribal governments representing more than 90 percent of the tribal members living on reservations in Arizona, according to the report. The report further outlined the initiative's key provisions and the revenue sharing structure it proposes. The initiative will:

Continue limited and regulated gaming on Arizona tribal lands to provide jobs and generate vitally needed funding for education, housing and health care, plus other governmental services;

Provide for additional regulatory oversight by the Arizona Department of Gaming;

Enable non-gaming tribes, located in remote areas of the state, to benefit from gaming revenue by allowing them to sell their gaming machine allocations to other tribes; and

Share a portion of gaming revenues with the state and local government to support specified state and local programs.

The tribes with gaming will be responsible for sharing different portions of their casino slot revenues. Campbell explained if a tribe's casino makes $25 million or less, only 1 percent of its revenues will be shared.

Those making more than $25 million, but less than $75 million, will share 3 percent; casinos making between $75 and $100 million will share 6 percent and the tribes drawing in excess of $100 million will share 8 percent.

An estimated $83 million a year from Indian gaming will be contributed to the state and local communities, according to the fair-gaming report.

Twelve percent of the total monies will be directed to city, town and county governments for government services benefiting the general public, such as public safety, the promotion of commerce and economic development.

An additional nine percent of the total will fund the state's regulatory expenses.

The remainder will go to the Arizona Benefits Fund for educational programs and needs; emergency services and trauma centers; wildlife and habitat conservation; statewide tourism promotion; and addressing problem gambling through education, prevention and treatment.

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