The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation announced it has signed both the new Tribal State Gaming Compacts, along with the legislative changes required to enact them.
Fort McDowell, in conjunction with its sister tribes, has worked for years in good faith negotiations toward a modernized Compact with the State of Arizona. Officials say they are pleased to have reached an agreement on compact amendments that will greatly benefit both tribes and the state.
A couple of items specific to the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation are in the compact. The tribe’s current gaming device allocation is 968. That will increase by 432, but there is also a provision to allow that number to increase by 24 every two years.
Also, Fort McDowell is currently limited to a single gaming facility. The compact allows for a second facility after 10 years with the consent of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Tribe. The provision is reciprocal, Salt River would be permitted a third facility after 10 years with the consent of Fort McDowell.
Fort McDowell is not new to the gaming enterprise. The nation took a lead negotiating role in the 2002 compact negotiations, and has continued to work toward a mutually beneficial, limited and well-regulated gaming compact. The 2002 compact update was endorsed by voters in the form of ballot Proposition 202 in the General Election.
It was also the firm stand the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation took in 1992 that prompted the state to negotiate the original gaming compacts.
“When we developed the 2002 compacts, the tribal leaders were committed to ensuring that every tribe in the state benefit from the new agreement,” said President Bernadine Burnette. “We were also committed to sharing tribal revenues with the state and our local communities. These structures will remain intact and we, as tribes, will continue to support services that are critical to our local communities and our State.”
This modernized compact retains the revenue sharing agreement with the state through the Arizona Benefits Fund. As of today, the tribes have shared over $1.5 billion in gaming revenues, with the greatest portion of these revenues dedicated to supporting K-12 education. Trauma and emergency room funding receive the second largest contribution.
The 2021 compact amendments also preserve the 12 percent local revenue share. Within this structure, the tribes provide funding to local communities for projects that benefit public safety, emergency resources, conservation efforts and economic development. It was important to tribal leaders to maintain this relationship with, and support for, their neighbors.
The new compact amendments allow expansion both on and off reservation, but retain the parameters built into the original compacts that ensure their mutual agreements are upheld. The compact provisions will still be protected by the poison pill, ensuring that off reservation gaming will not expand beyond what was negotiated in the agreement.
“Tribes know best the needs of our communities,” said Vice President Paul Russell. “Fort McDowell entered into these compact negotiations with that perspective in mind. We appreciate (Governor Doug Ducey) for the work he and his staff did to reach this historic agreement and appreciate the legislature’s support for the legislation necessary to enact these new compacts.”