Wednesday, September 22, 2021 7:47 pm

Lobbyists rake in tribal money for gaming, other work

A January 2015 rendering of the Tohono O’odham casino planned near Loop 101 and Northern Avenue. /Photo: Tohono O’odham
A January 2015 rendering of the Tohono O’odham casino planned near Loop 101 and Northern Avenue. /Photo: Tohono O’odham

By Peter Corbett | The Arizona Republic

A six-year casino battle among three Arizona tribes has fueled a federal lobbying spending spree of nearly $20 million.

The Gila River Indian Community spent $3.65 million on lobbying last year, which topped the list of spending on federal lobbying by groups in Arizona. The amount also exceeded spending for national gaming interests, including such heavyweights as Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Federal lobbying records and a list compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a non-profit Washington research group, show that Gila River nearly tripled its annual lobbying spending on gaming and other issues since 2009.

Gila River and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community have been spending millions of dollars on lobbying and legal fees to try to stop the Tohono O’odham Nation from building a West Valley casino. Between them, the two tribes spent $14.4 million lobbying over the past five years.

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