BIA allows more New Mexico gaming compacts to go into effect

Laguna Pueblo owns and operates the Route 66 Casino. Photo from Facebook

The Bureau of Indian Affairs has allowed three more Class III gaming compacts in New Mexico to take effect, bringing the total number to 12, a record for any state.

The trend started in June, when Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn allowed five compacts to take effect even though he had concerns about revenue sharing provisions in the agreement. But he didn't reject them because he said the tribes assured him they were satisfied with the provisions, according to a June 9 letter.

The BIA has since allowed two more agreements to go into effect in July, followed by two more in August. Another three went into effect last week, according to notices that were published in the Federal Register.

The state is now home to more tribes with "deemed approved" compacts than any other in the nation. The agreements are considered to be legal to the extent their provisions are consistent with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The 12 represent a majority of the tribes with compacts in the state. They are: Navajo Nation, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Mescalero Apache Nation, Acoma Pueblo, Jemez Pueblo, the Isleta Pueblo, Taos Pueblo, Ohkay Owingeh, Laguna Pueblo, Tesuque Pueblo, Santa Clara Pueblo and Zuni Pueblo.

Another tribe will soon be joining the group. The state's Gaming Control Board shows that Nambe Pueblo has signed an updated agreement.

That leaves just three tribes -- Sandia Pueblo, San Felipe Pueblo and Santa Ana Pueblo -- still operating under compacts that were signed in 2007. The agreements expire in 2037, like the others in the state.

Finally, one tribe is in limbo -- the compact with Pojoaque Pueblo expired on June 30 after the tribe balked at the revenue sharing provisions that were questioned by the BIA. The U.S. Attorney's Office has said it won't take action pending resolution of litigation in federal court.

Relevant Documents:
BIA Deemed Approved Letter (June 9, 2015)

Federal Register Notices:
Indian Gaming [Pueblo of Laguna] (October 23, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Pueblo of Tesuque] (October 23, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Pueblo of Santa Clara] (October 23, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Pueblo of Zuni] (August 14, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Ohkay Owingeh] (August 13, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Pueblo of Taos] (July 30, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Pueblo of Isleta] (July 28, 2015)
Indian Gaming [Jicarilla Apache Nation, Mescalero Apache Tribe of the Mescalero Reservation, Navajo Nation, Pueblo of Acoma, and Pueblo of Jemez] (June 22, 2015)

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