SANTA FE—The House of Representatives has approved a new gaming compact with the Navajo Nation by a majority vote of 36-30. It would allow the Navajo Nation to operate up to five gaming facilities, the most of any New Mexico tribe or pueblo.
“Congratulations to the Navajo Nation on House action to move House Joint Resolution 15 forward to the Senate,” said Rep. James Roger Madalena, D-Rio Arriba, Sandoval, San Juan, who carried the legislation. “There are challenging issues as debated in the House and I wish them well in their efforts to renew their gaming compact.”
Madalena said the proposed compact has been years in the making. An agreement was reached in 2013 by the governor and the Navajo Nation, but it was not approved by the legislature. The approved compact addresses concerns that the Department of the Interior had with the compact submitted to the legislature in 2013. The renegotiated amendments will go into effect July 1, 2015.
The operation of the five casinos is subject to these parameters:
- The Navajo Nation is authorized to operate one facility per 15,000 members residing in New Mexico.
- The Navajo Nation acquires the right to operate a third, fourth and fifth Class III Gaming facility at five years, 10 years and 15 years after the effective date of the 2014 compact.
- The Navajo Nation cannot open any new Class III Gaming Facilities within three years of opening its last Class III Gaming Facility.
- The Navajo Nation must operate at least 1,500 Class III Gaming Machines before it can open its third Gaming Facility.
The new compact includes several other provisions. The Navajo casinos can be operated 24 hours a day. The Navajo Nation is required to check a database of individuals delinquent in child support payments before making a payout of more than $1,200. The Navajo Nation will contribute .25 percent of adjusted net win to support problem gambling programs in the State.
The Navajo Nation’s contribution increases to .5 percent of adjusted net win if it operates more than two Class III Gaming Facilities. The state revenue sharing amounts are consistent with the revenue sharing rates found in the 2007 New Mexico Compact. The exclusivity provisions are also similar to those in the 2007 Compact. If the state violates the Navajo Nation’s exclusivity, the Navajo Nation may stop making revenue sharing payments to the state.
HJR 15 now goes to the Senate.