Court decision clears way for Indian casino in Glendale, opponents to appeal

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by Catherine Holland

azfamily.com

Posted on March 4, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 4 at 9:08 AM

Map: 95th and Northern avenues

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GLENDALE, Ariz. – A judge has handed the Tohono O'odham Nation a victory in its quest to building a Las Vegas-style resort-casino on land it purchased in Glendale.

The battle has been going on for more than two years.

Tohono O'odham Nation bought about 54 acres of land near 95th and Northern avenues, and submitted plans and all of the required paperwork to building a complex featuring a casino, a resort, shops and restaurants.

Both Glendale and Gila River Indian Community opposed those plans and their legal maneuverings have kept the plans on hold and the land undeveloped.

The city of Glendale said the plans were developed without its input.

Some state lawmakers and other Native American tribes say the project not only violates a pact to not build any news casinos, it would also take business from other Valley casinos.

Yesterday, a federal judge issued a ruling that’s in line with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s decision to designate the property in question as reservation land. While the land is not yet officially in the reservation system, Thursday’s ruling clears the way for the Tohono O'odham Nation to move forward.

Opponents plan to appeal the judge’s decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Depending on that decision, it's possible the case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The tribe says it will work with the surrounding communities as it proceeds, but there’s no word yet on when construction will begin or when the casino could be open for business.

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