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New Mexico Indian tribes not on board with gaming expansion

Tribal gaming interests in New Mexico are speaking out against a new plan from the state’s government to expand regulated gambling options in the Land of Enchantment. They say that the new plan violates a recently signed gaming pact and is illegal. For its part, the state seems more than willing to simply rip up the existing agreement in an effort to scoop up new tax revenue. The issue will almost certainly be decided in a courtroom at a future date.

At the heart of the disagreement in New Mexico is an effort by the state to expand gaming options at the state’s licensed racinos. These establishments are the only operators outside the tribal gaming space and can only offer a limited number of slot machines and only for 18 hours a day. This isn’t sitting well with the tribes, who pay anywhere from two to ten percent of their gaming revenue to the state, but operate as the exclusive purveyors of anything besides slots.

Tribal interests also allege that the state is acting secretively in their plans and are freezing the tribes out of the discussions regarding gambling expansions. They also warn that walking away from the existing agreements would launch a major legal battle.

In a statement reported on by the Martinsville Bulletin, Sandia Pueblo Gov. Stuart Paisano commented on the situation saying, “This proposed legislation presents not only a renewed challenge to our economic security but a reckless attempt to expand private wealth at the expense of our ability to provide essential government services.”

This issue will almost certainly be the subject of what is likely to be a lengthy legal battle at a future date.