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Tribe Sees Progress on Plans for Casino in Glendale

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A Native American tribe won a key legal fight today in its bid to locate a casino near Glendale. 

A 1986 law gave the Tohono O'odham tribe the rights to purchase land to replace reservation property that was flooded by a federal dam project. The tribe did just that near the Arizona Cardinals stadium in Glendale. And two years ago the Department of Interior gave permission to have 54 acres of it made part of the reservation, a necessary precursor to operating a casino. Lawsuits challenging the move were filed by Glendale, the state and the Gila River Indian Community. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a split decision, rejected arguments that the federal government's actions infringed on the state's sovereign rights, and that the unincorporated property is ineligible for reservation status because it is surrounded by Glendale. State Gaming Director Mark Brnovich.

"It's a real game changer," Brnovich said. "Because you are likely to have a casino right in the middle of a large metropolitan area. And I think that creates a certain dynamic and I think a lot of pressure for additional gaming."

He said voters approved tribal gaming in 2002 on the premise it would be limited to existing reservations. Brnovich said if there's now to be a casino near Glendale, lawmakers may figure they might as well allow others to have gaming in metro areas.