Pojoaque Pueblo tribe and state of New Mexico reach new casino agreement

  • The tribe’s compact expired in 2015, at which point U.S. lawmakers failed to act and did not create a new compac
  • Shares paid to the state of New Mexico from the tribe’s casino are set to rise by 2%

Leaders of the Pojoaque Pueblo tribe have recently agreed on a new gambling arrangement with the state of New Mexico. This comes after years of reportedly resisting the state’s attempts to take large portions of the tribe’s casino revenue.

Before, the tribe paid an 8% share of the total takings from slot machines to the state, and now they will pay a rate that is likely to be higher, starting at around 9% and growing to just shy of 11% in the coming 20 years.

new mexico tribal compact signed

This decision has come after the 2015 expiration of the tribe’s gambling compact. From then until now, the tribe’s leaders refused to agree on compacts that were being adhered to by other tribes across New Mexico.

Operating according to compact

It is the law for the tribes of the United States to hold a valid license and to have agreed a specific compact for them to run casinos. But when the Pojoaque Pueblo tribe’s compact ran out in 2015, Damon Martinez – then U.S. attorney – declined to act against them while they awaited the outcome of a related hearing.

During that time, the tribe operated in accordance with its expired compact, with the money paid to the state in an escrow account.

At present, it remains unclear whether or not the tribe should compensate this, due to the fact that four other tribes in the area were, under their new and legal compacts, paying the correct, raised amount.

But a long-held ruling says that Pojoaque must negotiate an agreement with the administration of Gov. Susana Martinez, instead of with the Interior Department of the United States. For this reason, a federal appeals court decided to push the tribe toward agreeing the terms laid out by New Mexico.

The state has chosen to agree upon a compact against delaying the tribe’s mandate to make a decision soon, which could have prompted the tribe – with their added time – to seek a U.S. Supreme Court appeal.

Meanwhile, however, the tribe reportedly believes that an unreasonable amount of their casino revenue was being taken. On the flip side, New Mexico officials are allegedly stating that they simply ask the tribe to work to the same rules as other tribes in the state.

Last week, with the court proceedings closed, James D. Tierney – the acting U.S. attorney – has given the Pojoaque Pueblo tribe a month to enter into a renewed and legal compact with the state of New Mexico.

What else was on the table?

The aforementioned disagreement over slot machine revenue shares was not the only thing up for debate in court proceedings. Another issue was that the region of Pojoaque wished for its minimum gambling age to be reduced to 18 from 21 and to abolish its alcohol ban in betting areas.

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