New Mexico State Legislative Committee Approves Navajo Gaming Compact

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Cell 202-200-0625

For Immediate Release

New Mexico State Legislative Committee Approves Navajo Gaming Compact
Navajo Leaders Urge House and Senate to Pass Gaming Compact

SANTA FE, NM--On Tuesday, March 12, the State Legislative Committee on Compacts approved the gaming compact between the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico, with a vote of 11-4. With less than three days left until the end of the New Mexico Legislative Session, the compact must be heard and adopted by both the Senate and the House.  

The Navajo Nation has been in negotiations with Gov. Susanna Martinez’s lead negotiator since May 2012. On March 7, 2013, the Nabikiyaati Committee approved key terms of the gaming compact and Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly and Speaker Johnny Naize sent joint letters recommending to the state approval of the Navajo Gaming Compact.

The Navajo Nation, under its current compact, operates two Class III Gaming Facilities, Fire Rock Navajo Casino in Churchrock, N.M., and Northern Edge Navajo Casino in Upper Fruitland, N.M., and one Class II Gaming Facility, Flowing Water Navajo Casino in Tse’daa Kaan, N.M.

The proposed compact would allow the Navajo Nation to operate up to five gaming facilities and extends the Compact to 2037. It also extended the Navajo Nation’s criminal jurisdiction over all Indians when a gaming crime is committed, and allows the application of Navajo Nation law when a patron files a tort claim in tribal court, which are provisions that are not provided by its current compact.  The compact also provides that if the State of New Mexico authorizes internet gaming or if there is a change in Federal Law, the Navajo Nation would be allowed to conduct internet gaming.

The revenue sharing payment to the state would be increased from 8% to 10% with a tier system that would require the Navajo Nation to pay 10.75% if it grosses over $150 million.  Another key issue of the compact is the clarification of the treatment of free play, which has been a subject of dispute with the state and gaming tribes in the state.  The Navajo Nation has resolved and settled its dispute with the state.

The Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in the United States and is also one of the newest tribes to Indian gaming. Its territorial jurisdiction extends into three states, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Though, with an alarming unemployment rate of 50.25%, Council Delegate Lorenzo Bates, Chairman of the Navajo Nation Gaming Task Force Subcommittee told the State Legislative Committee on Compact that the “Navajo Nation is making economic development a priority.  While the Navajo Nation is new to the gaming industry, it has already provided a benefit by producing 950 much-need jobs for our Navajo People.” 

The Navajo Nation has self-financed the development of its casinos. Chairman Bates stated that “it is important that the compact is approved in the 2013 New Mexico legislative session to ensure that our investment and legal obligations are not compromised and allows the Navajo Nation the ability to plan for its future.  The investment not only provides a return on our dollars, but also a return in terms of employment.”  

The joint resolution was introduced by Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup. It will now move to the Senate floor for consideration.

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Subtitle: 
Mexico State Legislative Committee Approves Navajo Gaming Compact Navajo Leaders Urge House and Senate to Pass Gaming Compact
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