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San Juan Southern Paiute Tribe of Arizona

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The tribe has an option on 54 acres of land in Bellemont that could be the site of a future casino, the Arizona Daily Sun reported. Phoenix developer Jerry Diddy would not disclose details, but conceded the Paiutes can't afford to buy any land right now. He said his company plans to purchase it and some revenue from the casino would pay off the debt. The proposed casino would include 50,000 square feet of gambling space and a 75,000 square-foot multipurpose building that could accommodate several events throughout the year. The land is zoned for heavy commercial, but if the tribe acquires the land, it will be exempt from local zoning and other land-use laws. Casino gambling is illegal under Arizona law, but tribes can petition the federal government to take land into trust, which makes it U.S. property and holds it exempt from most local and state laws. The BIA will conduct hearings and take public comments on the San Juan Southern Paiute proposal, said an official in the bureau's office in Phoenix. No formal application has been submitted for trust land designation, the BIA said. The tribe has about 250 members in scattered settlements throughout the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona and southeastern Utah.

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