Tucson is set to get its first casino within city limits thanks to the Pascua Yaqui tribe.
The United States House of Representatives recently approved the Old Pascua Community Land Acquisition Act, which would allow the tribe to trust their land near Grant Road and Interstate 10, a necessary step in order to build a casino.
It would also preserve the existing land, the old village of Pascua, where religious ceremonies take place.
A new casino would provide hundreds of jobs for tribesmen and other residents of the area, said Tribal President Peter Yucupicio, a longtime resident of Old Pascua.
“This will improve the region with sustainable jobs, not only for Yaquis but for the whole community on the west side,” he said. “It is high time we invested in the West Side.
Sponsored by US Representative Raúl Grijalva, the bill will go to the Senate early next year and, if approved, to the President for signature. No timetable is yet known for the start of construction.
“I am proud to represent the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and the efforts to protect these sacred lands,” Grijalva said. “The Old Pascua Community Land Acquisition Act is a bipartisan bill that will raise the standard of living of the tribes, improve system coordination and integration of service delivery, and promote continued knowledge transfer. , Yaqui culture, history and traditions for future generations. “
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe bought the old Tucson 5 Drive-in, turned into Century Park 16 theaters, in 2011 for $ 4.65 million. It is adjacent to old Pascua.
This property, along with the former Pascua, would become part of the Pascua Yaqui reserve and would be governed by the tribe.
As part of the process of building a new casino, the tribe struck a one-of-a-kind deal with the city of Tucson in 2019.
The intergovernmental agreement was approved by city council and, as part of the agreement, the tribe would make “payments in lieu of tax” which are “for almost all uses currently intended for the site.”
The tribe would agree to pay the city taxes on specific transaction privileges based on income:
Retail trade, including alcoholic beverages – 2.6%
Sale of prepared meals, including alcoholic beverages – 2%
Hotel rental – 6% plus $ 4 per room per 24 hour period
Entertainment, such as cinemas, video games, or concerts – 2%
Gross proceeds from the construction of a new building – 2%
Rental to third parties – 2%
The city would continue to provide services such as law enforcement, fire protection and emergency services, traffic controls, waste / recycling and public transportation.
Tucson police officers would be delegated by the tribe to issue summonses and make arrests or prosecutions on tribal lands.
The city would also continue to provide water service, but the tribe would provide water from its own resources if a play facility was built, the proposal says.
The tribe would take over the operation and maintenance of all roads and streets at the site and would not be required to submit construction plans for approval to the city.
The tribe would comply with all building and fire codes and allow the Tucson Fire Department to review compliance plans and conduct full building inspections after construction, the proposal says.
“This effort builds on the strong partnership that the City of Tucson and the Pascua Yaqui Tribe have long valued while recognizing the cultural and historical significance of the area known as ‘Old Pascua’,” said the mayor. from Tucson, Regina Romero.
The casino would be the fifth in the greater Tucson area.
The Pascua Yaqui Tribe operates the Casino del Sol Resort, Spa and Conference Center at 5655 W. Valencia Road and the Casino of the Sun at 7406 S. Camino de Oeste.
The Tohono O’odham Nation owns the Desert Diamond Casino at Pima Mine Road and Interstate 19, and the Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel at 7350 S. Nogales Highway. It also operates Desert Diamond Casino – West Valley, in Glendale.
Contact reporter Gabriela Rico at [email protected]