New Mexico Legislature to Debate Navajo Gambling Compact
Lawmakers in the state of New Mexico will soon be debating a proposed agreement between the state and the Navajo Nation which could allow the tribe to run up to five casinos in the state for the next twenty years.The deal reached between tribal leaders and Gov. Susana Martinez would allow the tribe to build two new casinos in addition to the three that they currently operate. The deal was reached last year but state lawmakers wouldn’t approve it in the last legislative session as they said there was insufficient time to process all the details.
A number of lawmakers are hoping that the deal can resolve a long-running dispute over “free play” i.e. free spins that gamblers periodically receive. The state’s Gaming Control Board claims that the tribes owe tens of millions of dollars in state taxes as it doesn’t count wins of free spins as part of a player’s total winnings.
The Navajo Nation and four other tribes operate their casinos under gaming compacts that are due to expire in 2015. If the new agreement is passed then the Navajo Nation would be secure in its operations until 2037.