New Mexico Governor Signs Compacts With Gaming Tribes

Governor Susana Martinez last week signed a 22-year compact with five of New Mexico’s gaming tribes. Others are expected to follow before the existing compact expires in June of this year.

Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico last week signed 22-year gaming compacts with five of the state’s gaming tribes, including the Acoma and Jemez pueblos, the Jicarilla Apache Nation, the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Navajo Nation. Of these, only the Jemez Pueblo is not currently operating a casino.

The governor and tribes held a signing ceremony at the governor’s office. Both houses of the legislature already ratified the compacts last month. The agreements came after three years of negotiations between Martinez and the tribes.

The compacts give the state a larger share of gaming revenues in return for allowing the casinos to be open all the time. The compacts also allow casinos to offer higher credit to “whales” and give away more food and hotel rooms to loyal customers.

They also require regular reports to the states by the tribes and give regulators more access to business information to verify that the tribes are living up to the terms of the agreement. They also include a new provision that will allow players to “self exclude” themselves from playing. Previously this program was only offered at racetracks, where 214 people have already signed up. That will now be expanded by six casinos.

If a person who bans himself is later found on the casino’s premises he can be forced to leave and his winnings will be confiscated and turned over to a gambling treatment program.

The governor released a statement that said, in part, “I’m pleased that we were able to come together to secure this compact. It preserves the stability and predictability of gaming in New Mexico while addressing key priorities of the state and each individual tribal government.”

The federal government’s approval is required before the compacts go into effect.

The current compact expires in June of this month. Several other tribes have not signed the compact but are expected to do so before their compacts expire.