NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MAYOR DON RAE
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Mayor Don Rae.
MR. RAE: Thank you. My name is Don Rae. I'm here from Pinetop Lakeside. We're an adjacent community to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, who operates a casino in our area talking about the regional impacts that relate to us and the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. The tribes' participation of $30,000.00 a year in the White Mountain Partnership advertising, promoting the area as a tourism destination has helped weave a close-knit relationship between the town of Pinetop Lakeside, the City of Showlow and the tribe. It has also allowed the participating entities additional advertising mechanisms benefitting all involved.
The tribe's payroll has the economic benefit to the communities due to the tribal members purchasing goods and supplies not readily available on the reservation. The tribe has established an RV park and a good number of retirees filling these spaces and patronize businesses in the Pinetop Lakeside/Showlow communities is also a benefit to the area.
There has been a substantial increase in the motel rooms in Pinetop Lakeside and Hondah and though overall occupancy is down in both locations, the increase in rooms benefits everyone in the region and becomes a destination and tourism place. The casino is a prominent sponsor of several special events in Pinetop Lakeside. However, some type of state impact fees may be necessary in the near future to compensate neighboring communities if they are financial impacts in the future.
The casino has funded a $5.2 million new chair lift at Sunrise Ski Resort, putting Sunrise in a more equal level with other ski resorts in helping to increase winter visitation to the town of Pinetop Lakeside and surrounding communities. There are some negatives, however. We experience traffic congestions due to the number of vehicles utilizing the highway through our town. The casino, I think the casino has taken it upon themselves to legalize the age of 21 instead of 18, which was legal under the compact which is a positive for us, I think.
The chief of police in our town has noticed an increase in crime in Pinetop Lakeside area in the last couple of years in most categories. Whether this is specifically related to the casino's opening or the increase of traffic and visitor population we cannot determine this. I appreciate you listening to our comments. Thank you very much.
CHAIRPERSON JAMES: Thank you. I'm not sure our final person is here. Stanley Bergstein? If not, that does end our public comment period. I want to thank each and every one of you who took time to come here and make your views heard before this Commission.