=== UPDATE ===
=== PHOENIX NOV 2013 ===
Politicizing poker starts with getting the facts. The first fact is that the Governor unilaterally "zoned" poker exclusively to BIA reservations in 2002 so that non-Indians cannot obtain a "regulated exclusion" for any poker games where a third party benefits. Is it a good deal for the citizens of Arizona and the State to have the international sport of poker monopolized by a little over a dozen BIA casinos operating poker rooms in our State? I think not. But that's my opinion. The facts on this matter are shrouded. I called the ADoG and asked them for the aggregate poker revenue generated last year by the BIA tribes. They told me, quite seriously, that this is proprietary information, even in the aggregate. They told me, quite honestly, that they respect tribal sovereignty and will not release that information to the public, and not to anyone in fact, including the governor, who signed the exclusivity agreement over poker. How crazy is that? We can't get the facts that would help politicize the monopolistic claims over poker that the BIA has over non-Indians!
That's part of the problem with having a quasi-state, pseudo-police authority not being supported by taxpayers and serving at the pleasure solely of the governor of Arizona. Undeterred, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act to the National Indian Gaming Commission asking for the aggregate poker revenue generated by Arizona's tribes for an arbitrary fiscal calendar year (2011). This request was denied by the FOIA officer who stated that no such records are retained. I appealed this initial decision, stating that the NIGC must have such records, because their fees are based on the reported revenue (by gaming type) generated by each tribe, which is submitted quarterly. The appeals officer told me that the initial decision was not in error... get this... because prior to this year tribes reported on "calendar years", not "fiscal years". Egads. Seriously? But, in the NIGC's defense, the appeals officer did say that in trying to meet with the spirit of my request, he requisitioned the information for the year in question from the NIGC's accounting department. The answer: The 8 gaming tribes that reported poker revenue in 2011 totaled about $30 million aggregate gross.
Two things struck me here. First, that only 8 of the 17 (at the time*) tribes with poker rooms even reported revenue to the NIGC. This is probably because 9 of the tribes have opted to "self-regulate" their Class II poker operations without assistance from the NIGC. This is something that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows gaming tribes to do for Class II games. Begs to question just how accurate and true any revenue reporting (if any) to the Arizona Department of Gaming is made by these nine tribes, doesn't it? Who is policing the police? It's not the tax payers, that's for sure.
The second thing that I found fascinating is that historically, the tribes have "tithed" around 4% of their revenue to the euphemistically named "Arizona Benefits Fund". You may hear that this amount is closer to 5% over the span of the past decade, but Arizona doesn't really "benefit" by the amount of money that goes towards 100% of ADoG's operating budget or the money spent on problem gambling programs. The ABF money earmarked for these areas should really be considered part of the BIA's operational budget because without BIA casinos neither the ADoG or the problem gambling programs would exist. Back on point: using the NIGC FOIA data, $1.2 million was what the State saw from BIA poker rooms operating in 2011. By comparison, our neighbor California saw 88 licensed off-rez cardrooms in 2012 generate $880 million gross revenue. Revenue that is taxed locally and by the State (for GENERAL fund use no less!) at 8-15%. Using 10% as the median, that's $88 million for the government cut. A far cry above what the BIA generates for Arizona with their exclusive monopoly over poker.
The solution still remains legislative, judicial or executive. All three branches of government can make the change necessary to free poker in Arizona from the BIA crime cabal. And it is a crime cabal, make no mistake folks. Gambling is illegal, a felony, in our State. The IGRA law created a compacting process that required States to negotiate with the BIA tribes that wanted a casino. Arizona did, because not doing so would allow the BIA tribes to get their compact approved by the Interior Department regardless of State laws and with no State input/cut negotiation. Three years later, in Florida v. Seminole, the forced negotiation was ruled unconstitutional. Too late? No, it was not. Arizona governor Fife Symington famously claimed he would not negotiate any more compacts and in 2003 he would not renew those that were already executed. This threat is what prompted the BIA tribal gaming syndication known as the Arizona Indian Gaming Association to lobby hard, spend millions, and put prop 200 and prop 202 on the 2002 ballot. Prop 202 passed, by a mere 20 thousand votes. This was "the people" speaking, and saying "let's keep Indian Gaming" and "let's allow the tribes to cut the State in for 2 to 8% of their Net Class III win" and "while we're at it, let's grant the tribes exclusivity over regulated gambling so that non-Indians can't have it, not even for Class II poker, although Class II Bingo is already regulated off-rez so the pale skins can keep that.
The unconstitutional law that created the initial compacts abrogated state law that says gambling is a felony. The governor unilaterally changed that, going against the law of the land. Whoever sat down and said "I know how we can get around State laws against gambling for the BIA tribes" committed conspiracy, just in talking about it. The actual act is nothing short of racketeering and a manifestation of that conspiracy and felony gambling to boot. Prop 202 is a conspiracy, and the legislative body knew it, but wrote the law anyway. The conspiracy was created by the BIA gambling syndicate, that was in the habit of approving gambling compacts prior to any federal regulatory framework that came with the IGRA in 1987.
The better solution, is to cut off the head of the monster that the BIA has always been. To learn more, please visit www.TecumsehFederation.org, and click on the links page for days worth of information and empirical data that supports these claims.
*Twin Arrows casino added an 18th poker room when they opened their northern Arizona casino in 2013. They probably have signed the Poker Memorandum of Understanding, and are on the path to self-regulate their poker room, but the revamped ADoG website no longer makes this information readily available. Hmmm. More covering up against an increasingly aware and wary public?