The state of Arizona has just recently announced that an agreement has been signed with the Hopi Tribe which is the last tribe existing on the territory of the state to ink the said arrangement. According to the operating agreement, the Native American tribe will have the permission to lease or operate as many as 900 slot machines on Hopi land and the compact was inked by Hopi Tribe Chairman Herman Honanie.
Mr. Honanie placed his signature on the 20-year gaming agreement together with Gov. Doug Ducey and this marked the willingness of the 22nd Native American tribe to participate in the gambling field in the region. At the moment, there is a total of 16 tribes which are managing a gambling location in the state and five have leasing agreements, allowing other operators to utilize the tribal slot machines given them by the state. The Hopi Tribe Chairman stated that he believes in the right to prosperity of his own tribe and this is what motivates the decision.
Mr. Honanie placed his signature on the agreement just a day before leaving office and one of his biggest concerns was that 2019 is expected to see the closure of a coal mine, the Navajo Generating Station, and this is going to inevitably affect the budget of the tribe with losses amounting to 85 percent of it. Since revenue is much-needed at the moment, signing a gaming compact comes at the right time for the Hopi Tribe. The tribe which has as many as 15,000 members is going to be negatively affected by the closure of the Navajo Generating Station which justifies the signing of the gaming arrangement.
Motivation Behind the Compact Signing
The relatively small northeastern reservation of the Hopi Tribe is surrounded by the much larger Navajo Nation and in this region, people often talk about coal. Throughout the years there have been many discussions about the effect such agreement could have on the community and there have been two rejections of the arrangement back in the days. The polls in the area have seen a no from the tribe both in 1995 and in 2004, as the main concern of the locals was that opening a potential gambling location could lead to negative impact on the community and it was against the cultural customs of the tribal nation.
In the meantime, concerned members of the tribe have continued reminding that a new source of revenue is much-needed in order to provide the tribe with services and this has eventually led to the arrangement signing. At the beginning of this year, Mr. Honanie stated that the opinion is constantly changing and further insight into the situation would be needed in order to assess the overall position on the question. Due to the fast changes in the current situation, Mr. Honanie stated that the decision should be beneficial to all parties involved in it.
For the time being, the tribe has not decided whether it will lease the said slot machines to another tribe’s casino, or utilize them in its own gambling location. In the past, there have been discussions about opening such on tribal trust land and the authorities of the tribe have considered that a gaming venue will bring hundreds of jobs as well as tens of millions of dollars in revenue. The compact signed gives the Native American tribe the permission to operate three gambling facilities.