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Tribal gaming contributions hit record levels in 2022

By: - August 19, 2022 9:14 am

Photo by Octavio Jones | Getty Images

The Arizona Department of Gaming reported in July that the total contributions coming from Tribal gaming in Arizona amounted to more than $123.6 million for the fiscal year that ended in June, making it the largest contribution to date.

“This is an exciting milestone and one we cherish and celebrate as we continue to protect and support Tribal sovereignty through Tribal gaming,” said Arizona Indian Gaming Association Chairman Robert Miguel in a press release.

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Under the gaming compacts that tribes have with the state, all tribes that own and operate casinos in Arizona have to contribute a percentage of their gaming revenue each year to the state, and to cities, towns, and counties.

“I am ecstatic to see the highest levels of tribal contributions to the State following the Amended Tribal-State Gaming Compact signed by Governor Ducey last year,” Arizona Department of Gaming Director Ted Vogt said in a press release

The vast majority of tribal gaming contributions — 88% — go to the state. The funds go to the Arizona Benefits Fund on a quarterly basis, which provides funding for several areas including instructional improvement, trauma and emergency services; Arizona Department of Gaming operations; wildlife conservation; tourism; and programs for gambling education, treatment and prevention.

The other 12% is distributed by tribes to the cities, towns, and counties of their choosing for community services and public safety programs for local governments.

There are 24 tribal casinos in Arizona, operated by 16 of the state’s 22 federally recognized tribal nations. The other six tribes don’t have casinos in Arizona, but do have slot machine rights that they lease to other tribes with casinos, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.

“With over $21 million more in total contributions to the Arizona Benefits Fund when compared to the next highest fiscal year, it is safe to say 2022 was historic for Arizona tribal gaming,” Vogt said.

Tribal gaming continues to provide for tribal communities through employment, education, enhanced services to tribal members, and other economic development opportunities, the Arizona Indian Gaming Association stated.

The Arizona Indian Gaming Association represents eight of the 22 federally recognized tribes in Arizona and its membership is made up of both gaming and non-gaming tribes.

The Association provides education, legislative, and public policy resources for Tribesk policymakers and the public on tribal gaming issues as well as tribal development.

Tribes have contributed more than $1.2 billion to the Arizona Benefits Fund since 2004, according to the Arizona Department of Gaming.

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Shondiin Silversmith
Shondiin Silversmith

Shondiin Silversmith is an award-winning Native journalist based on the Navajo Nation. Silversmith has covered Indigenous communities for more than 10 years, and covers Arizona's 22 federally recognized sovereign tribal nations, as well as national and international Indigenous issues. Her digital, print and audio stories have been published by USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic, Navajo Times, The GroundTruth Project and PRX's "The World." Silversmith earned her master's degree in journalism and mass communication in Boston before moving back to Arizona to continue reporting stories on Indigenous communities. She is a member of the Native American Journalist Association and has made it a priority in her career to advocate, pitch and develop stories surrounding Indigenous communities in the newsrooms she works in.

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