One of my readers shared that all Arizona tribes with casinos are audited by the Arizona Department of Gaming. I went online to see if the tribal audits are posted and public. Answer…of course not…you can’t find it. I am going to do a FOIA request but I suspect I will be told the information I seek is confidential. However other interesting information appeared.

Total contributions from all Arizona gaming tribes in Fiscal Year 2013 were $97,581, 815. That’s a lot of money. How is it distributed? Here’s the list:

  • 12% goes directly to cities, towns and counties. In FY 2013 that amount was $11,054,208
  • The rest, 88% goes into an Arizona Benefits fund and is divided thusly:
  •         9% or $8 million, whichever is greater, goes to the Arizona Department of Gaming for expenses. The FY 2013 total was $8 million
  •         8% goes to the state’s Tourism Fund. In FY 2013 it was $6,143,764
  •         8% goes to the Wildlife Conservation Fund. In FY 2013 it was $6,143,764
  •         2% goes to the Office of Problem Gambling. In FY 2013 it was $1,730,552
  •         28% goes to the Trauma & Emergency Services Fund. In FY 2013 it was $21,503,176
  •         56% goes to the Instructional Improvement Fund. In FY2013 it was $43,006,351

Without knowing revenues earned collectively or individually by the gaming tribes it is impossible to figure out how much money is being earned annually. The formula for each gaming tribe’s contribution to the state is as follows:

  1. (b) Tribal Contributions. In consideration for the substantial exclusivity covenants by the State in Section 3(h), the Tribe shall contribute for the benefit of the public a percentage of the Tribe’s Class III Net Win for each fiscal year of the Gaming Facility Operator as follows:
  2. (1) One percent (1%) of the first twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000.00);                                                                          (2) Three percent (3%) of the next fifty million dollars ($50,000,000.00);                                                                          (3) Six percent (6%) of the next twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000.00); and                                                                    (4) Eight percent (8%) of Class III Net Win in excess of one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000.00).

There is another factor that all of us should consider. A best guesstimate is that gaming tribes in Arizona collectively take in a billion dollars a year. That is a billion discretionary dollars diverted from expenditures on food, clothes, housing etc. That is a billion discretionary dollars earning no sales tax locally or statewide.

Did you know it was reported in October of 2013 that “Federal programs operated by the Hopi Tribe are in danger of being taken over by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS) because the Hopi Tribe is seriously delinquent in submitting audits for Fiscal Years 2010, 2011 and 2012? Because of the severity of the problem, the BIA has designated the Hopi Tribe as a “High Risk” tribe and imposed a Level III sanction on the tribe. The BIA Hopi Agency, by federal law, must now take steps to take over these programs and stop all funding to the tribe. Other federal agencies may also pull their funding.” ( ). Or in July of 2014 it was reported that “The White Mountain Apache Housing Authority misspent millions of federal dollars on entertainment, gift certificates and other improper items, and is so badly managed it should be considered for receivership, according to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development audit released this week. A HUD Office of Inspector General report issued Tuesday also says the agency’s Southwest Office of Native American Programs should order the tribal housing agency to reimburse $2.3 million and acknowledge the unsupported spending of an additional $8.2 million.”( ).

When incredible amounts of money are involved, whether as a federal grant or gaming revenue, the possibility of graft and corruption increase dramatically for any group not just tribes. True, the state audits the gaming tribes but 99% of the general public is not aware of that fact much less knows the results of these audits. Again, I ask how the Tohono O’odham that allegedly earns $68 million a year spends it. Chairman Norris, in his Sept. 17, 2014 testimony before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, testified that many in his Nation live in substandard housing without water or electricity. Why?

© Joyce Clark, 2014


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