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Yaqui sues to close new Tucson poker room

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August 25, 2008

TUCSON - The Pascua Yaqui Tribe filed suit last week against Club Royale, a new poker club on the north side of Tucson. The lawsuit alleges illegal gambling and seeks to close the club.

The Club Royale opened July 25th in a 3,500-square-foot facility located at 2665 N. Campbell Ave. Is operates daily from 4pm to 4am.

The lawsuit claims the Club Royale violates state gambling laws and interferes with business at the Pascua Yaqui Tribe's two casinos, Casino del Sol and Casino of the Sun.

"Basically, we want to shut them down based on the fact that it's illegal gambling in the state of Arizona," said Luis Ochoa, an attorney at Quarles & Brady representing the tribe.

Kimberly Van Amburg, a tribal legal spokesperson, said "From our standpoint, we shouldn't have to file this lawsuit. The people who are responsible for this is the Office of the Attorney General, not the Pascua Yaqui Tribe."

Van Amburg said attendance at the poker room at Casino del Sol has declined in the past few weeks but did not say by how much. "Speaking with our director of poker and the poker supervisors, a lot of the regular poker players disappeared at around the time this card room opened," Van Amburg said.

Arizona law allows gambling outside of casinos if no one other than those gambling benefit from the game. The Yaqui's suits claims Club Royale is operating as a business, and as such, it "does not meet the limited statutory definitions of amusement, regulated and social gambling."

Van Amburg added, "If it is determined that gambling is allowed in the state, that should be considered illegal. Then the tribes - not just this tribe - could take the stance that they're not just limited to what's in the gaming compact. It could be like Las Vegas, with slot machines in the Circle K's."

Van Amburg continued, "If there is a determination that this is illegal, and it's being allowed, the tribes could suspend making those payments. That's a huge amount of money. It just seems to me that the state would be interested in taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen."

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