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Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Arizona

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About 600 members of the community have petitioned for the chance to vote themselves a share of casino profits. It upped the ante from an earlier drive, demanding tribal members divide up 35 percent instead of 25 percent of profits from two Casino Arizona gambling halls. If the signatures were verified, the council had 15 days to implement dividends. If it refuses, an election would be scheduled within the next 30 to 60 days. Casino payouts also must be approved by the BIA. The petition came as tribal election campaigns moved into high gear. Payouts, which fueled angry debates for months, likely will be the hottest issue in the Sept. 5 elections. Sentiment has run high in favor of the payments. Earlier this year, the council, which has opposed sharing casino profits, offered $1,000 to each enrolled member as a compromise. Those payments haven't been made. Ivan Makil and seven other council members said they need to hang onto the money from the tribe's gambling halls to improve education, health care, housing and provide other services. No one can say how much the payout would be because Salt River officials, like those in other tribes, guard casino profits for fear of tipping off competition.

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