A Fort Sill Tribe of Oklahoma official says bingo operations have been stopped at the tribe’s Akela casino on Interstate 10 between Deming and Las Cruces while the tribe appeals an order by the National Indian Gaming Commission that the tribe stop hosting bingo at the site, the Las Cruces Sun-News reported.
Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser told the newspaper that the commission agreed to temporarily hold off on fines, if the tribe stopped bingo operations. He said the “stay” will remain in place until the outcome of the tribe’s appeal of a violation notice from the commission has been decided.
The commission ordered the tribe in July to stop hosting bingo at the site and threatened the tribe with $25,000 fines for violations, the Sun-News reported.
The newspaper said the tribe continued to host paper bingo three days a week until Sept. 17. The tribe had begun offering paper bingo at the site on April 9.
The tribe contends it has a legal basis to conduct gaming on the Akela land, but federal officials have argued otherwise, according to the Sun-News. Action related to the dispute is pending in federal court.
Members of the Fort Sill tribe are descendants of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apaches, who once roamed southwestern New Mexico, southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico. Tribal members were relocated as prisoners of war to Florida and later to a military base in Oklahoma in the late 1800s.