Since the Tohono O’odham announced its 2009 plan to put a casino within Glendale on a county island I have done a great deal of research on the effects of a casino. In 2010 I found a series of columns from April and May, 2010 written by Jim Marino, Guest Columnist for the Santa Ynez Valley Journal, California. His findings are stark and troubling and so eerily similar to the findings of others that I wanted to share quotes from his series. My comments, relating to Glendale, follow the quote in red.
“These casinos were thrust into communities under the claim the federal Indian Gambling Act [I.G.R.A.] and the state compacts made them a “done deal” and the local communities had nothing to say about it.”
I.G.R.A. when all is said and done may be the nail in Glendale’s coffin.
“But if they didn’t oppose them, these local communities might get some of the gambling dollars in lieu of the many taxes local and state government could not collect. If the local government did not cooperate, on the other hand, they would get no money and often would be accused of being anti-Indian racists and insensitive to the plight of “Indians” in America. After wielding this political stick, these gambling investors and tribes would then wave the carrot, telling local government they would create “jobs” and thus be a great benefit to the community.”
I have been accused of being an anti-Indian racist insensitive to the treatment of Native Americans at the hands of the White Man because I have voiced my opposition to a casino within Glendale’s borders. Does any of this sound familiar? When all else fails to persuade use the promise of jobs.
“The tremendous costs of providing public services like police, fire, schools, jails, hospitals, public works, social services, etc., used regularly by Indian casinos and related businesses, and the demands placed on infrastructure like roads, bridges, public buildings, and other facilities, are all paid for by the non-Indian taxpayers because these tribal businesses are exempt from property taxes, bed taxes, sales taxes, personal property taxes, corporate taxes and state income taxes among others.”
Fact. City staff reported long ago that Glendale taxpayers would pick up the cost of another water treatment plant specifically needed to handle the increased demand that would occur because of the casino.
“The amount of money that trickles down into the local economy from the salaries of employees and the costs of goods and services is nowhere near enough to make up for lost tax revenues or to pay the tribe’s fair share of the costs to the community for increased demands on public services and infrastructure. Neither are the occasional gifts tribes like the Chumash make usually to the police or fire agencies which gifts are often less than the $2 million the tribe still receives in federal welfare and grant monies every year. “
8% of specified gaming revenues are required by law to be granted by the Tribes to non-profit organizations. Even if every dollar of that 8% could go to Glendale it would not meet the costs Glendale taxpayers will have to bear to support this casino.
“Another economic myth is that by calling the casino a “resort” it will somehow become a destination location for tourists. This myth is debunked by several studies showing the vast majority of gamblers come from a one- to two-hour drive or fewer than 50 miles and come to gamble only.”
This fact is borne out by many other studies. It also explains why the Tohono O’odham, upon their consultant’s advice, rejected the possibility of a casino in Buckeye.
“Therefore, an Indian casino essentially siphons dollars from the immediate surroundings. Those are dollars and local monies not spent in other non-Indian businesses and entertainment venues where such discretionary income would otherwise be spent. Non-Indian businesses nearby often cannot compete with an Indian business that pays no taxes, is exempt from state and local laws, rules and regulations workers compensation and public liability insurance and cannot be sued for any of its misdeeds, no matter how outrageous they may be.”
Many have said that the casino will take business away from the hotels and restaurants in Westgate. Right now there is a television ad running for Fort McDowell Casino that offers a $7.99 prime rib dinner on Tuesday nights. There is no way a Yard House, Margaritaville or Gordon Biersch could compete with gambling subsidized meals offered at a casino.
“One of the common methods that gambling promoters and investors, using an “Indian tribe” as a front to introduce gambling casinos into a community, is the promise of “jobs.” Often they target communities that are economically depressed because they know local government, unions, Chambers of Commerce, businesses and others often jump at the chance for anything that creates ‘jobs’.”
The TO has done exactly that-with the promise of jobs in Glendale as a means of mitigating its current financial difficulties. It is a siren song the TO hope will not be ignored and uses consistently to gain support among the general public for its proposal.
“There are casinos that have ruined entire residential neighborhoods like the San Manuel Casino rising above single-family homes in a housing tract, which homes then lost most of their value because of the nearby gambling operations. Neighbors complained about noise, traffic, drunkenness, open drug trafficking and even having to pick up beer cans and used hypodermic needles from their front lawns.”
There are nearly 10,000 people living in the immediate vicinity of the proposed casino with over 600 apartment units immediately south and over 900 homes immediately east. Their property values are in jeopardy.
“ People who dealt with or entered into contracts with these casino tribes and businesses found out that if the tribe stiffed them for the bill, they could not sue, again based on the court-created doctrine of legal immunity for Indian tribes and their businesses discussed in last week’s article.”
Based upon the manner in which the TO purchased the land secretly and then held it for 6 years, I would be reluctant to trust any relationship with them. Add to that the fact that the TO’s sister tribes feel betrayed by the TO’s denial of a seven casino limit in the Phoenix Metro area as promised with the voter approved Gaming Compact.
“This use of the tribal legal immunity doctrine to evade legal responsibility is one of the most flagrant and outrageous impacts of Indian gambling and business expansion. This doctrine is exacerbated by the fact that these tribes, their casinos and businesses, can also operate outside of all state and local laws (except alcohol-control law). Laws that were enacted over many years to protect customers, workers, the environment and quality of life.”
In Arizona the only control over Tribal casinos is the state’s Gambling agency.
“Virtually every casino community has now experienced increases in crime ranging from shoot-outs, murder, theft, robbery, embezzlement, gang activity, substance abuse and drug trafficking, drunk driving, auto accidents and fatalities, gambling addictions, credit problems and bankruptcies, family neglect, even suicides, and the list goes on. Recently, Highway 154 ominously being called “the Chumash Highway” has experienced several auto accident fatalities, not to mention the officially unexplained suicide jumpers from the Cold Springs Canyon bridge. Only a few weeks ago, a gang shoot-out erupted amongst the slot machines at the Jackson Rancheria casino located in Amador County.”
While these experiences occurred in California, there is the common thread of increased crime resulting from casinos.
“Not long ago, Sheriffs deputies were involved in a running gun battle outside the Soboba Casino where at least two suspects, who were tribal members, were shot and killed and the Sheriff refused to respond to calls there anymore. One deputy Sheriff working a special overtime detail at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez arrested 36 drug violators in only six weeks time, most of them felonies involving methamphetamines being used, possessed and sold around the casino.”
Since the land in question is a County Island and if the TO are successful in establishing a reservation neither the County Sheriff’s Office or the Glendale Police Department would have authority to respond to any criminal activity on the reservation unless specifically requested by the TO. I suspect the TO will not do so as it would provide an opportunity for negative publicity.
“In another case, an elderly couple were walking in the parking lot of another Southern California Indian casino near San Bernardino and a thief whizzed by on a motorcycle and snatched the woman’s purse in the parking lot. The motorcycle grazed their car during the theft. They reported the incident to casino security guards, expecting that the crime would be reported to the Sheriff’s Department. They found out later, when they made an insurance claim for the damage to their car, this incident was never reported to the police. This is but another of the many negative impacts of Indian casinos, the fact that the primary duty of Indian casino security staff is to conceal any negative incidents that occur or insinuate the false claim that some kind of “sovereign status” permits them to deal with criminal acts when it does not.”
When you enter the reservation you do so at your own risk.
“Another problem is the failure and refusal of many local media outlets to report the crime, corruption and negative incidents occurring regularly at Indian casinos because those casinos are the biggest television, radio and newspaper advertisers they have. So the so-called “free press” has in effect, been co-opted by the fear of offending these gambling casinos who are their best advertising customers.”
This is a genuine concern. The Tribes advertise their casinos on television incessantly. One of our television stations, Channel 12, is connected to the Arizona Republic. Neither of these two giants of media are going to jeopardize their revenue streams by going negative. When was the last time you remember any media reporting on the use of the Tribal land, just north of Arizona’s southern border, as an open conduit for drug smuggling or illegal border crossings?