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Arizona Judge Denies Tribe Injunction In Glendale-Area Casino Fight

Desert Diamond Casino
(Photo courtesy of SIMG, Inc.)
Construction of the Desert Diamond Casino – West Valley near Glendale.

In the latest installment of a 6-year legal battle, a federal judge denied the Tohono O’odham Nation’s request for an injunction against state officials the tribal nation has accused of meddling in its plans to build a casino near Glendale. 

The Tohono O’odham has said it will open the $200 million casino as a Class II facility, instead of a Class III. Class II or III distinctions determine what types of games a casino can offer and who regulates them. The tribe does not need state approval to open a Class II facility because they are controlled by federal law.

U.S. District Judge David Campbell wrote that the state’s attempts to block the casino would not cause irreparable financial harm to the Tohono O’odham because its own consultant said a Class II casino would be just as profitable.

In a prepared statement, Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manuel pointed to Campbell’s assertion that there is “little doubt” letters from Gov. Doug Ducey and Attorney General Mark Brnovich influenced the Arizona Department of Gaming’s decision to not allow the casino to open as a Class III facility.

“The Nation is comfortable with the court’s decision today and we remain confident that the court will ultimately rule in our favor,” Manuel’s statement reads. “We remain focused on creating jobs and economic opportunity in the West Valley as our project nears completion.”

Dan Bergin, director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, said in a prepared statement the agency is pleased with Campbell's decision.

"The Tohono O'odham Nation should not be permitted to force the State into authorizing a Class III casino that the State continues to regard as unauthorized," the statement said. "The court’s decision will allow the State to continue on its current course and we are looking forward to addressing the complaint, finally allowing the court hear and consider our substantive arguments on why the proposed casino is in fact unauthorized."

Updated 9/18/2015 at 9:06 a.m.

News Business
Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.