SCAT announces major Tribal gaming developments

Courtesy photos On April 15 at the Heard Museum in Phoenix the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the state of Arizona signed an amended gaming contract. Pictured is Chairman Terry Rambler shaking hands with Governor Doug Ducey.

San Carlos Apache Reservation — After years of diligent effort, the 2021 Gaming Compact Amendment is moving forward with the San Carlos Apache Tribe’s support. Since 2016, the Tribe has been negotiating a new gaming compact amendment with the Arizona Governor’s office. The Tribe established a Gaming Negotiations Team led by Chairman Terry Rambler, Vice Chairman Tao Etpison, Attorneys Steve Titla and Alex Ritchie, Gaming Enterprise CEO Matt Olin and Gaming Enterprise Board Chairman Myron Moses.

The updated agreement will extend tribal gaming exclusivity for an additional 20 years beyond the current Compact, which was scheduled to sunset in 2026. It provides another gaming facility for the Tribe in addition to the Apache Gold Casino and Apache Sky Enterprise. It will also authorize new table games like craps, roulette and baccarat, as well as limited machine increases. Chairman Rambler signed the new 2021 compact amendment last week and it was hand-delivered to the Governor’s office.

“The new compacts expand on nearly thirty years of tribal gaming success, and ensure that it will continue to benefit our people into the future,” said Rambler. “I want to recognize the Gaming Negotiations Team and the Tribal Council for their efforts in securing our rights with this Compact, while ensuring new opportunities and a more prosperous future for our people.”

Separate from the new compact amendment, the Arizona Legislature recently passed legislation to expand commercial gaming, including sports betting. There will be 10 sports betting licenses that will be allocated to professional sports teams and 10 licenses which will be allocated to tribes in Arizona.

San Carlos Apache Tribe Vice Chairman Tao Etpison said, “We support the commercial gaming legislation as it potentially creates opportunities for our operation. Leadership will review this legislation and whether it would be prudent to apply for one of the tribal sports betting licenses.”

Steve Titla, the Tribe’s lead negotiator, said, “I believe this is a good compact that will be a benefit to a tribe in future years.” Mr. Titla had negotiated the Gaming Compacts for the Tribe – first in 1993, and then in 2002.

In 1993, the Tribe had to file a lawsuit in federal court against the state of Arizona for lack of negotiations and the federal court ruled in the Tribe’s favor, which forced then-Governor Fife Symington to sign a 10-year Compact. Then, in 2002, the Tribe, along with other tribes in Arizona, had the voter initiative Proposition 202 put on the ballot in order to authorize Indian Gaming. Prop 202 passed with the overwhelming support of voters, and the Governor executed the current 26-year Gaming Compact.

The Tribe’s Gaming Negotiations Team attended a signing ceremony with Governor Ducey on April 15 at the Heard Museum. While it is a major accomplishment, there are several additional steps needed before both the Compact amendment and the commercial gaming legislation can take effect. This includes review and approval of the Compact by the federal Office of Indian Gaming. More updates will be provided as the process moves forward.

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