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Glendale formally opposes plans for Tohono O’odham casino

Glendale is hardening its concerns about a Tohono O’odham casino planned near the city’s sports and entertainment district into official opposition.

Glendale officials say the project would present more costs to the city than benefits, citing a recent economic impact study conducted by Scottsdale-based Elliott Pollack & Co.

Until now, Glendale had warned that the $600 million complex would require the city to pay for waterlines and public safety and conceded that if the 24/7 casino and resort opened, the city would make the most of its projected 1.2 million yearly visitors.

A statement released by Glendale on Wednesday, however, introduced harsher criticisms.

“The land in question has no historic relationship to the Tohono O’odham Nation. The Nation’s only interest in the land is for an economic development project, the impact of which will be detrimental to the substantial private and public investment in the area,” the city’s statement reads.

“Creation of an Indian reservation in the manner proposed by the tribe, with the effect that it will have on the community, is contrary to the intent of federal law.”

The tribe could not be immediately reached for reaction. It earlier stated its willingness to meet with Glendale officials to work out any objections to the project, which would be the state’s largest casino operation.

Negatives highlighted by the city in the study include:

• Of the 6,000 construction jobs estimated by the tribe, only an estimated 10 percent would be filled by Glendale residents, and of the ongoing casino and resort jobs, only one-third would be filled by Glendale residents.

• Studies indicate casino patrons decrease their spending on goods and services to reserve discretionary income for gambling. It is estimated that the substitution effect could be as high as 75 percent.

• The city’s cost to provide basic services to the site would be substantial, including the construction of a new fire station. Ongoing operations costs for public safety could be as high as $3.5 million annually, and additional water, wastewater and traffic issues would add substantial costs.

• The site would be considered a sovereign nation and would place a reservation at that location.

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