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Arizona Residents Pushing To End Tribal Casino Gambling Monopoly

The state of Arizona is one of dozens around the US that currently allows Indian tribe's to hold a monopoly on casino gambling. Tribal reservations in the state currently enjoy the right to offer casino gambling under compacts with the state, but residents are attempting to break up the monopoly in the next election.

Citizens for Fair Gaming, a group founded by Chairman Carl Nicholson, is making a push to have an initiative placed on the ballot next year that would allow private groups to develop casinos in Arizona. State race tracks would also be permitted to offer slots if the initiative passes.

It is no slam dunk that the question will even make it to the ballot. Nicholson currently has fifty members of Citizens for Fair Gaming, but 172,809 signatures must be received by July for the question to make it to the election. Nicholson believes as he and the other members spread the word, more people will be interested in the cause and will sign on.

The outrage over the tribal gaming began when the Tohono O'odham tribe made plans for a new casino near Glendale. Citizens started to become concerned that the state was not receiving enough money from the tribal casinos, a concession that tribal leaders were unwilling to make.

"The state and communities have earned hundreds of millions of dollars in valuable revenue while our communities have created an economic engine that has helped us thrive," said Governor William Rhodes, in a statement released by the Gila River Indian Community. "To open all of Arizona to casinos everywhere is illegal, misguided and flies in the face of the will of voters."

That is a theory that Nicholson and his group want tested. In he is able to gather enough signatures, voters would have a voice in the future of gambling expansion in Arizona. Nicholson believes that additional, non-tribal gaming facilities would bring not only billions of dollars in revenue to the state, but also much needed jobs.

States around the US have freely opened up their gaming industries to private developers over the past decade. Casino gambling is becoming one of the largest industries in the country, and states are using the gaming boom to help fill budget deficits at a time when the economy has struggled.

Nicholson's ballot question not only would open the door for private casinos, but also would block the attempt by the Tohono tribe to open the Glendale facility. The mayor of Glendale has already come out against the proposed tribal casino in her city.

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