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NIGC Rejects Tohono O’odham Nation’s Casino Ordinance For Now

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The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) rejected a casino ordinance for the Tohono O'odham Nation, because the proposed site for a gaming facility has not yet been taken into trust, reported

The head of the NIGC said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) prevents the Commission from approving the ordinance until the land is taken into trust. "Congress intended that there be a general prohibition against gaming on trust lands that are acquired after the enactment of IGRA unless specific exceptions apply," NIGC Chairwoman Tracie Stevens wrote in an August 24 decision. "I must avoid interpreting those exceptions and their application in a manner that conflicts with Congress's stated intent."

The tribe wants to annex the 134 acres of unincorporated land it owns near Glendale, Arizona to make it a sovereign nation for its planned $300 million hotel-casino, the West Valley Resort Project.

If the land goes into trust, the tribe can resubmit its gaming ordinance, Stevens said.

At an August 10 panel discussion, the mayor of Glendale, Arizona, said she supports the Tohono O’odham Nation developing the 134 acres its owns outside Phoenix, if the tribe does not build a casino on the land, reported The Glendale Star.

Tohono O'odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. says the casino would generate an estimated 6,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent jobs in the Glendale area. Read his op-ed in Indian Country Today Media Network: It's Time to Build the West Valley Resort.