AZ Gambling Up To Voters
By Linda
A federal appeals court here has overturned a lower court decision that had blocked Arizona Governor Jane Hull from negotiating gaming compacts with Indian tribes on her own, without the consent of the state legislature. Hull’s compacts with the Indians have displeased the state’s non-tribal gaming industry.

However, the federal court’s support for the Governor’s authority may be compromised, rendered impotent, or, in fact, sanctioned by the outcome of the vote on three gambling measures which citizens can vote for or against in the November 5 election. Only one of the three measures (the one with the most votes) will become law.

The case against Hull developed when Arizona’s dog and horse racing industry argued that the gaming business of the Indians was taking from their profits. The industry sued Governor Hull on the grounds that she exceeded her authority when negotiating 10-year gaming compacts with 16 Arizona tribes without the participation of the legislature. The dog and horse folks won the ear of U.S. District Court Judge Robert Broomfield, who nullified all of Governor Hull’s agreements, which had allowed the Indains more slot machines and blackjack and poker playing on their reservations.

Thursday’s court ruling made no judgement on the dog and horse racing lobby’s argument, but dismissed Judge Broomfield’s ruling on grounds of procedure.

The eventual fate of the Indians is therefore left to the voters, unless there is, after the election, further court intervention of some kind. The first measure to be voted for or against is supported by the tribes and offers virtually the same terms as Governor Hull’s compacts, which would also give the state 8% of gaming profits on expanded Indian gaming business. Another proposal would allow more table games, such as craps and roulette, with the state getting 3%. The last initiative -- sponsored by the dog and horse track owners -- would allow slot machines on race tracks, with the state getting 40% of profits, and hit the Indians with an 8% tax on existing business.

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