Casinos are a very popular form of entertainment throughout the states, including the state of Arizona. Casinos in Arizona are more than just popular to many that frequent them. For many, it is a big part of their weekly activities. Thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act many years ago, slot machines are now permitted.

A study done by NAU (Northern Arizona University) confirmed the popularity through an extensive research project. NAU researched gaming and when the study was completed, the results were very clear. The report indicated that one-third of all Arizonans responded that they too, had gambled in a casino in Arizona.

In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed what is known as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, also referred to as IGRA. IGRA has long recognized the popular entertainment form of gaming and has used it as a means to promote economic development of many Indian Tribes.

Many people feel that casinos have been the answer to the Native Americans becoming self sufficient and promoting each of the Tribes government through their profited monies from these Arizona casinos.

The AIGA organization represents the membership of some 19 Tribes and represent 90 percent of the Native American Indians who live on the reservations within the sate of Arizona. This organization was created to help both protect and promote the welfare of Native American Indian Tribes. Their focus is still the same which is to assist their members to become self reliant.

The organization stands by their belief that they are most definitely committed to both maintaining and protecting the Indian sovereign government authority. The IGRA Regulatory Act allows any state to operate Indian gaming on reservations if the state permits such gaming off-reservation.

The IGRA Act was a result of a Supreme Court ruling that basically said that states do not have any leverage over gaming on any United States Tribe reservation.

Prior to this Act, the 1987 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, simply said that states have no regulatory authority regarding Indian reservations casinos.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 permitted states and Indian Tribes to be able to regulate Class III Tribal gaming, which is inclusive of games such as blackjack, slot machines, keno and other such related casino style games.

During the early 1990s, there were several Arizona Tribes that had installed slot machines in their casinos even though none of them had Tribal-State Gaming Compacts with the state. The then Arizona governor, Fife Symington, believed that Indian reservations should not have casinos because at that time, Arizona didn’t permit any gambling that was considered off-reservation.

Tribes contended that Arizona was already permitting gambling by allowing gambling acts such as horse and dog racing, charity bingo games, as well as the state lotteries that were readily available.

The National Indian Gaming Commission issued rules that clarified these rules in 1992, which said that a Tribe must have a gaming Compact with a state before it is allowed to operate slot machines on its land.

Following this ruling, the Arizona Governor called on the United States Attorney in Phoenix, Arizona, to proceed to shut down any and all casinos that had slot machines. It was like something that you would see in a movie. FBI agents raided several Indian gaming casinos and seized their gaming slot machines.

At the Fort McDowell Casino located near Scottsdale, Arizona, many of the Native American Tribal members tried to prevent these agents from removing their slot machines by forming a blockade which resulted in a three week long standoff.

One year later in 1993, the governor signed off on an agreement with the Native American Indian tribes which allowed Tribes to have these gaming slot machines on each of their reservations.

Not included in this Compact agreement were any table games. In 2003, however, the popular game of blackjack was added to the list of table games that were allowed.

By Cecilia Valenzuela
Cecilia Valenzuela works as a full time entrepreneur. She is also an advocate for assisting other small business entrepreneurs in following their small business dreams. Valenzuela is a translator and teacher and vows to help others accomplish their own success. Find out more by logging onto