It has been 18 years and 19 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

You might have noticed that I have not written any blogs for a month…over this holiday season. It seems that preparing a scrumptious Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas got in the way. By the way, I love Amazon. This year, for the first time, I was able to do all of my Christmas shopping online. It is also a time of year when everyone, even governmental agencies, seems to go on hiatus. Everything seems to take a backseat to celebrating the season. I wish everyone a Happy New Year and may it be all that you hope for.

One noteworthy event occurred on December 20, 2015 when the Tohono O’odham (TO) celebrated the grand opening of its Desert Diamond casino in Glendale. The day it opened I happened to be at the Target/Kohl’s shopping center in Peoria directly north of the casino. As I was approaching one of the stores I overheard a conversation between several women. The first pair of women asked the second pair if they had gone to the new casino. The second pair answered with, “Yes, we did. It’s a rip off. We won’t be going there again.” I wanted to ask the second pair some follow up questions but I didn’t want to intrude on what appeared to be a private conversation albeit able to be heard by passersby.

It’s a good time to note that there are still outstanding issues with the casino. First and foremost, although the effort to fast track a vote on the Keeping the Promise Act in Congress failed, it is not a dead issue and will, in the future, come up for that all important vote before Congress.

In the meantime the TO and the State of Arizona (namely the Department of Gaming which regulates the voter approved Gaming Compact of 2002) are still in court. To date the state has not granted a liquor license for the TO facility and it appears that the TO are not likely to obtain one in the near future. In addition the TO have only bingo slot machines (Class II) on site as the state has not approved Class III gaming at the facility. If you are looking for table games such as poker you will be sorely disappointed. Until these issues are resolved legally what you see at the facility is what you get. It’s not very impressive.

Another negative is the attractiveness of the facility itself. It was planned and built as a warehouse but is being used as the site of the temporary casino. It cannot be described as a first class facility and looks as if it were built for its intended purpose, a warehouse. It’s certainly no Talking Stick and the site surrounding the casino has not been landscaped. So if you like looking at dirt, there’s plenty to see.

I, and many others, still remain hopeful a successful congressional vote or a successful legal decision in favor of the state will put the final nail in this casino coffin. For all of those who are waiting for dollars to roll into governmental coffers…forget it. The TO, as with all other tribal gaming facilities, are not required to pay any federal, state, regional or local taxes. It is also important to be mindful that if a traffic accident or any other unsavory event befalls you on the TO’s reservation you are subject to their law and their interpretation of such.

© Joyce Clark, 2016


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