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Tribes give $21.8M to Ariz. — a record from casinos

By TEYA VITU

tvitu@tucsoncitizen.com

Arizona’s Indian tribes with casinos contributed a record amount to the state in the second quarter.

The tribes gave $21.8 million in gaming revenue to the Arizona Department of Gaming during the quarter running from April through June. It was the first time the three-month revenue sharing total topped $20 million, the state reported.

This is nearly a 20 percent increase from the $18.2 million delivered to state coffers in the same quarter last year.

“We have 200 more machines, a better economy, more people playing,” said Christa Severns, gaming department spokeswoman.

Arizona’s 22 Indian casinos added 263 gaming machines in the past year, bringing the statewide total to 12,094 slots. The five Tucson area casinos operated by the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and Tohono O’odham Nation have 2,905 slot machines – the same number as a year ago, according to gaming department statistics.

Except for $2 million that stays with the gaming department to cover administrative and regulatory expenses, the remainder of the revenue-sharing proceeds was distributed Tuesday to school districts, problem gambling programs, emergency services and wildlife and tourism funds.

In all, casinos have contributed $124.6 million to the state in the two-plus years since Proposition 202 allowed tribes to add blackjack and more slot machines. In exchange, tribes agreed to open casino books to state auditors and share between 1 percent and 8 percent of their gaming winnings.

Tribes pay the state 1 percent of the first $25 million in net win, 3 percent of the next $50 million, 6 percent of the following $25 million and 8 percent once the cumulative net win exceeds $100 million.

The gaming department accounts for only 88 percent of the shared revenue. Another 12 percent of payments goes to cities, counties and towns selected by the tribes.

The gaming department share was distributed Tuesday as follows:

• $436,344 went for problem-gambling education, treatment and prevention.

• $10.8 million went to the instructional-improvement fund.

• $5.4 million went to the trauma and emergency services fund.

• $1.5 million went to the Arizona wildlife conservation fund.

• $1.5 million went to the tourism fund.

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