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House panel rejects swallowing gambling ‘poison-pill’

Arizona municipalities wouldn’t be able to run their own casinos if an Indian tribe follows through on its controversial plan to build one in the middle of the West Valley – and if a bill sponsored by Rep. Jack Harper becomes law.

But, a legislative panel killed the Harper bill that would have let cities and towns start their own casinos, provided they forfeit their portion of state-shared revenue. The House Government Committee unanimously rejected the measure.

Harper, a Republican from Surprise, said he sponsored HB2204 in order to create competition among current casinos. He also said it was a response to the casino the Tohono O’odham Nation intends to build on land that borders Glendale and Peoria.

Harper said the bill would prevent tribes from violating the 2002 gaming compact, which he said limits casinos to reservation land that existed at the time. The compact also stipulates that no new casinos would be built in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

Although he said he expected the bill to fail, Harper said he wanted to call attention to the fact that the Indian tribes were not following the promises they made.

“I think the threat of competition is necessary to keep them from violating their agreement from 2002,” he said.

Although he sponsored a bill that could have expanded gambling, Harper actually does not want a casino in the West Valley at all.

“The reason why is because people then gamble instead of shopping, they gamble instead of paying their mortgage, they gamble instead of giving money to their local churches. It becomes almost a disease,” he said.

The goal of the bill was not necessarily to allow gambling, but to create a poison pill, Harper said.

“If we were to allow any type of gambling, it would take the restrictions off of the Indian tribes and they could expand what they have on their reservations,” he said. “I’m trying to have the same poison pill that, if they come off their reservations to offer gambling outside of their traditional reservation boundaries, then the cities could offer gambling.”

3 comments

  1. Representative Harper needs to be reminded that almost every citizen in the West Valley actually wants a casino. And I also wonder where this person gets the audacity to think he can tell us where to spend OUR money. Nobody in my family died and left him in charge. This is the WEST and our mentality is leave us alone.

    He is also reminded that there is a seperation of Church and State. Keep faith based inititives out of my capitol.

  2. Gambling businesses/strip mall poker rooms already exist in Glendale. Currently three strip mall gambling businesses/poker rooms operate in the City of Glendale. One strip mall poker room/gambling business near 43rd Ave and Peoria, disguised as a “retail store”, has an owner/manager/card dealer/prop player (all same female) who has been involved in criminal check fraud ranging in the tens of thousands of dollars, has multiple public court judgments ranging in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and IS a known con artist.

    This and these poker rooms are operating/gambling being conducted daily in Glendale operate with absolutely no regulation, no background checks to prevent people like the one mentioned above from owning/dealing cards in, no proper documentation for tax purpose or accountability sake, no licensing of card dealers which is required at the casinos ETC…. This already violates the tribal gaming compacts as well as state law yet continue to operate over the past three to four years with known shady individuals conducting business within.

    While other citizens and businesses are expected to follow and abide by state, city, federal laws… These strip mall poker rooms are free to violate the law as well as tribal gaming compacts all with the support, licensing and allowance of Glendale elected officials and law enforcement. In at least two news articles published in different news medias, the Arizona Department of Gaming directors have stated clearly that these off reservation poker rooms/gambling businesses violate state law. The current director, Mark Brnovich, has stated in one of the news articles that he fears having to deal with, as he put it, the specter of the poison pill. Which is what Rep. Jack Harper had eluded to in the article above!!

    Currently there are approximately 20 to 30 of these strip mall poker rooms/gambling businesses operating within Maricopa County. All licensed by their prospective cities under the facade of “retail poker supply stores”. If the poker rooms are legal as the poker room owners/card dealers/card players would bluff everyone into thinking are legal…. Then why do they have to hide behind and license themselves as “retail poker supply stores”? Because there is no type licensing for poker rooms/gambling businesses. Because they are ALL operating outside of the law. Each of the poker rooms owners/managers/card dealers and prop players they have operating the rooms profit, benefit as well as promote the gambling which takes place inside. Sales of poker supplies within the retail licensed businesses in which they claim to be are extremely minimal per month if any sales are generated at all due to poker supplies in a particular month. It can only be concluded that the profits and benefits in order to pay for monthly expenses such as leasing, utilities and whatever other overhead these clubs may have, could only come from the gambling/poker being conducted within the business. Which could only be concluded that these ARE gambling/poker businesses and NOT poker supply retail sale stores. Gambling as a business is illegal according to state law!!! Profiting, benefiting as well as promoting the gambling/poker which DOES occur in ALL the poker rooms/gambling businesses is in violation of both state law as well as tribal gaming compacts…. In the case of Phoenix it directly violates city code which specifically addresses POKER in the writing of the code… All of the city officials, up to the mayors offices, as well as law enforcement have been made aware of the unlawful nature of all of these poker rooms, disguised as “retail stores” as well as the unsavory character of some of the goings on and backgrounds of some involved… Yet they continue to license and support such illicit behavior for the past two or so years… My question is, WHY? Who is benefiting within the city ranks with the allowance and licensing of this not so gray area, non questionable of legal nature, as has been claimed by those who support it?

    Those are serious questions which need be addressed in regard to this issue. Why do the rest of the citizens and businesses with our communities have to abide by the laws and tax regulations when businesses like this are allowed loopholes which are supported by elected officials and law enforcement within our communities? Why are all the other businesses expected to have those working within fill out W-4, I-9s and other accountability paper work yet these poker rooms are allowed, licenses and supported without having to be held to the same legal status? How can that possibly be fair to all the citizens within our communities. Why can’t all the other businesses self proclaim themselves to be “private social clubs” and skirt laws as well as tax accountability just as the elected officials are supporting and allowing these unlawful strip mall poker rooms? None of the rooms in question are licensed as “social clubs”, they just claim to be!! They all have buy ins/rebuys (illegal), they all charge membership fees to play poker/gamble (profit), they all pay the incidentals within the business due to the gambling/poker played inside and not by the sales so poker supplies in which the licensing claims them to be….

    The allowances, licensing and support given these poker rooms/gambling businesses by the elected officials and law enforcement is far worse than the actual operations of poker rooms themselves!!! These allowances and licensing is giving way to tax evasion and unlawful, according to state statues, activity…. Again why, who else may be gaining benefit from the licensing and support of these gambling businesses? If records were requested for these rooms, I wonder how many W-4s and proper tax forms are filled out for those making money or profiting from the gambling/poker played inside? I wonder how much in actual retail sales of poker supplies any of these businesses could prove in paying for the operation of the business for which they are being licensed for… Little to none is the answer!!

    In Scottsdale six were prosecuted stemming from a raid on an unlawful poker room, which operated much in the same way that the current poker rooms operate. Half were convicted, by juries of there peers, of gambling crimes stemming from the poker played inside the room. Half plead guilty to lesser charges. This included the owner, card dealers and a few card players in this room. The City of Scottsdale did there jobs in prosecuting this illegal activity. In Tucson, the owners of another illegal card room there, plead guilty to gambling violations after a raid conducted by the city of Tucson along with the Arizona Department of Gaming. In the City of Gilbert recently a poker room/gambling business was closed due to code violations. The City attorney in Gilbert, in a news article, stated that after looking into the state laws as well as how the poker room was operating, the room appeared to violate state law as well. Luckily, taxpayers monies didn’t need to be wasted on lengthy and arduous prosecution. Gilbert did the proper thing as well as Scottsdale and Tucson. Three men were recently indicted on multiple, state violating gambling charges in Surprise. This includes, who the ADOG considers to be the ring leader and originator of these card rooms/social clubs/poker room/gambling businesses, Harold Lee. Two of the men indicted on these gambling charges, brought about by the AG, plead guilty to lesser felony charges last month. Do we need more examples of how these rooms violate state law and gaming compacts as well as in some cases city code, before the elected officials and law enforcement within these cities stop the currently unlawful activity and likely tax evasion?

    That’s all I have to say about that…. Not really, We have a ton more related issues/documentation in regard to the unlawful nature of all of these currently operating strip mall poker rooms/gambling businesses… I could prove in five minutes exactly how and why all these poker rooms are likely violating state law!!!

  3. “All” of these poker rooms are likely violating state law Willy B?

    Are you a registered lobbyist by chance?

    I do admire your convictions, and agree with you in more ways than not.

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