Court rules that tribe must come to agreement on new gaming compact with state

Court rules that tribe must come to agreement on new gaming compact with state

April 27, 2017 10:25 AM
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Three federal judges in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled late last week that the Pueblo of Pojoaque Native American tribe must come to agreement on a new gaming compact with the state, not the US Department of the Interior (DOI).

The two-year-old compact dispute is expected to continue, however, possibly with additional litigation.

As the website casino.org reports, the Pojoaque Pueblo people own two casinos in New Mexico. They are the Buffalo Thunder Resort just north of Albuquerque, and Cities of Gold Hotel in Santa Fe. Buffalo Thunder is a full-fledged casino with slots and table games, while Cities of Gold is a smaller venue that relies only on electronic gaming machines and bingo.

Right now both operating as unlicensed casinos because tribe’s gaming compact with the state expired in 2015.

The New Mexico governor insists the Native American group must negotiate with the state in order to establish a new gaming agreement. The tribe says it owes the state nothing, and politicians are trying to impose an unlawful tax. The Pueblos argues its sovereign rights are being violated in being forced to negotiate and share revenue they should deal with the US DOI, not the state.

But in the three-judge appeals ruling, the Tenth Circuit sided with the state.

Every other Class III Native American gaming facility in New Mexico has a compact with the state..

As casino.org notes, The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), passed in 1988, establishes the framework for Indian gaming stipulating that while federally recognized tribes can operate Class I and II games on their sovereign reservations without federal or state approval, Class III games, which includes slots and table games, must be authorized by the tribe’s home state.

New Mexico’s new gaming deals with other tribes requires tribes share up to nine percent of their annual adjusted net win

There are now 16 other New Mexico gaming compacts in operation, including 12 sects of pueblos. But the Pojoaque people remain resolute insisting they aren’t willing to re-up with the state.

The tribe said in a statement. “The court clearly got it wrong. Since the US Supreme Court in the Seminole decision decided that states can use their immunity to prevent tribes from suing them to avoid a court ruling that the state did not negotiate a compact in good faith, IGRA cannot function as it was originally intended.”

The Seminole citation deals with the Florida state government trying to expand gaming at its horse and greyhound racetracks, while still holding a compact with the Seminoles. The Seminoles, like the Pojoaques, are currently operating their casino resorts in Florida without a valid compact.