Feedback from the Issue of Thursday, May 13, 2010

CASINO ROYALE

Casino will bring economic change: I just read your "Wanna Bet?" article about the Tohono O'odham casino. I used to be married to an American Indian. We lived on the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Indian reservation [in Oregon] for three years. In that time, the tribe built a casino, and the economic change was amazing.

There were jobs, and the people could actually buy food for their families. The tribe got a medical clinic, childcare, and its own police and fire departments. It bought a truck stop and rebuilt it. It now has a golf course and a museum depicting the tribe's history.

What the federal government did to the Indians all those years ago is a still a travesty. I support the Tohono O'odham in their fight against the government. The statement in your article that best fits is from [legal expert] Judy Dworkin:

"People can argue about the negative effects of casinos. But [casinos] are the one thing that Indians have been able to use to raise money and pull themselves out of economic depression."
Dori Lee La Bastida, Phoenix

Of course there would be benefit: Oh, how the hypocrisy reigns in Glendale! And with Glendale's own Jan Brewer, temporarily governor of Arizona!

All their other arguments aside (because they're bullshit), this issue boils down to the fact that the city and state won't get to tax the hell out of the Indian casino inside what's considered a sovereign nation.

Wah, wah, wah, Jan and Mayor Elaine Scruggs! Sure, I can understand — especially with the sketchy deals Glendale made [regarding] the sports complex, plus the state of the economy — how you'd like to get the whole enchilada. But come on, ladies, take what you can get! The casino's the best possible use for that patch of nothingness.

The argument that what's already out there, business-wise, will be hurt by this huge casino complex is ludicrous. Of course what's there will benefit — big-time. People aren't just going to stay inside the casino all the time. Look at Vegas. They will want to come out for a meal, go to a concert at Jobing.com, go to a game — when there is one.

Businesses there are suffering when there's not a game or an event — which is a majority of the time. And sports fans will have another place to go once the games are over.

It makes sense to get out of the way and let the Tohono O'odham build their casino in these hard times. And I'm not even getting into the fact that the tribe is, by law, owed this land and whatever it wants to put on it by the federal government.
J.W. Bowles, address withheld

Indian Affairs must make a decision: Regardless of the opposition by the politicians mentioned in the story, it seems that the problem is with the inability of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs to make a decision to place the 134-acre parcel in trust so that it will become reservation.

The federal government needs to fulfill its responsibility to the Nation or return the lands it took for Painted Rock Dam. Politicians support Luke Air Force Base for the F-35s, and they want the Phoenix Coyotes to remain in Glendale because they help the economy. A casino would be even more helpful to the economy, as it's a 24/7 operation.

The two casinos operated by Casino Arizona (adjacent to Scottsdale) have been positive economic engines to Scottsdale and have not increased the crime rate.
Bob Chiago, Phoenix

You didn't read the whole story, Jay: The Glendale property acquired by the Tohono O'odham and purchased through a fictitious company is entitled to be transferred into trust and deemed by the U.S. Department of Interior and Bureau of Indian Affairs Indian as reservation.

But it is not eligible for a gambling casino. The Indian Gaming and Regulatory Act of 1988 prohibits gambling on lands acquired by any Indian tribe after October 1988.

The Glendale property was acquired in 2003, and not only is ineligible for gambling but not entitled to one of the specific exceptions to the general prohibition on gambling.
Jay Marno, Goleta, California

Kyl, McCain, Brewer on the hot seat: They'd better let the Tohono O'odham Nation put up that casino!

That is, if senators John McCain and Jon Kyl and Governor Jan Brewer want to stay in office. Because I and a lot of people will not vote them back in otherwise.
Tony Perille, Scottsdale

Where is the voice of the tribal people?: I am a member of the Tohono O'odham Nation. I have read responses from all sides of the West Valley Casino development issue.

While the issue of the [tribe's right to] land acquisition in the West Valley is a no-brainer, I believe the real issue we as a Nation should be concerned with is whether the West Valley Resort is in the best interest of our people.

Should we spend $500 million, which our government either has or will receive by loan, to invest in [the casino project]? I can't help wondering, where is the voice of the O'odham people?
Sara Mae Williams, Sells

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