The Fort Sill Apache Tribe asked the New Mexico Supreme Court last Friday to reconsider the court’s decision to block the tribe from access to gaming compacts. The request comes less than a month after the court upheld Gov. Susana Martinez’s decision to keep Fort Sill from signing on to a gaming compact. Fort Sill Chairman Jeff Haozous argues that Martinez is “actively blocking” the tribe’s attempts to rebuild a community in southern New Mexico. In February, Fort Sill asked New Mexico’s high court to allow the tribe to sign a gaming compact. Three of the justices decided to deny the tribe’s petition, with no explanation or opinion.
Gov. Susana Martinez signed a gaming compact between the state of New Mexico and five tribal governments on Monday. The compact, which will last until 2037, outlines the agreement between the state and tribal governments regarding gaming facilities. In a written statement, Martinez said the compact will benefit all parties involved. “I’m pleased that we were able to come together to secure this compact,” Martinez said. “It preserves the stability and predictability of gaming in New Mexico while addressing key priorities of the State and each individual tribal government.”
The compact adjusted the amount of revenue shared by tribes to the state.
The New Mexico Supreme Court denied a request by a southern New Mexico Native American tribe earlier this week that would have paved the way for the tribe to build a gaming facility. Three of the five justices agreed to deny a petition from the Fort Sill Apache tribe to be able to sign on to a recently approved gaming compact. The court did not issue an opinion or any reason why they denied the tribe’s request. In a statement, Fort Sill Apache Chairman Jeff Haozous said the group is not happy with the court’s decision, but that they are not giving up. “Although we are disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision to deny our petition, we are steadfast in our resolve to be treated fairly and equally by this administration.
The gaming compact that outlines the agreement between five Native American tribes and the state of New Mexico was approved by the House by to 60 to 5 vote. The new compact would allow tribes to operate gaming facilities 24 hours a day, extend lines of credit to those gambling and compensate food and drink. The agreement also defines the amount of net winnings tribes would pay the state in exchange for gaming exclusivity. Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, presented the compact in the form of the a joint resolution and told the body how important the compact is to both the state and tribes. “The needs of the five tribes and the state have been protected,” Clahchischilliage said.
The Senate approved a tribal gaming compact by vote of 35 to 7 on Wednesday evening. After an hour-long debate, Senators voted to send the proposed gaming compact to the House floor. The compact, which was negotiated between representatives of Gov. Susana Martinez’s office and five New Mexico tribes, would expire in 2037. See our primer on gaming compacts written before the session. Sen. Clemente Sanchez, D-Grants, who is chairman of the Committee on Compacts, presented the compact in the form of a Joint Resolution.
A legislative committee tasked with approving a gaming agreement between Native American tribes and New Mexico met for the first time on Tuesday. The Committee on Compacts heard from a representative of the governor’s office, and later asked questions, about the proposed gaming compact. The committee did not hear from the public or tribal officials but will at a future hearing. Jessica Hernandez, deputy chief-of-staff and general counsel for Gov. Susana Martinez, briefed the committee made up of Senators and Representatives about the proposed agreement between the state and five tribes. Some of the differences she highlighted were revenue sharing percentages and player credit lines.
The process of approving gaming compacts in New Mexico can be hard to understand. There is an interim legislative committee assigned to compacts, but it does not operate like traditional committees in the state legislature. Instead the Compact Negotiation Act outlines a process that can resemble legislative tennis. Gaming compacts are agreements between tribal and state governments regarding casino gaming. For New Mexico, gaming compacts outline rules, regulations and how much of a tribes net winnings are paid to the state.