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Ariz. Gov. Wins Indian Gaming Power

September 20, 2002

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A federal appeals court on Thursday gave Arizona’s governor the power to negotiate American Indian gaming compacts without the Legislature’s consent, overturning a lower court ruling.

The dog and horse racing industries had sued Gov. Jane Hull, claiming she could not negotiate 10-year gaming compacts with 16 Arizona tribes in the Legislature’s absence. The current compacts were set to begin expiring next year.

A federal judge agreed, nullified the agreements and left the Indians with an uncertain gaming future. Following that, three competing initiatives qualified for the November ballot in hopes of filling the void.

On Thursday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismissed the case on procedural grounds.

The decision may become moot in November, when Arizona voters will consider the three gambling measures.

One ballot proposal, backed by a host of tribes, is nearly identical to the compacts Hull agreed to and would give the state 8 percent of profits. A second initiative, backed by the Colorado River Indian Tribe, would allow a wider range of table games, such as craps and roulette, and give the state 3 percent of profits.

The final initiative, sponsored by the state’s horse and dog tracks, would allow slot machines at race tracks and give the state 40 percent of the take. The measure also would require tribal casinos to give 8 percent of gaming profits to the state.

If more than one measure gets a majority, the one with the most votes becomes law.

Under Thursday’s ruling, if none passes, Arizona’s governor would have the power to negotiate Indian gaming compacts unless another court intervened.

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