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Legislative committee recommends adoption of Navajo Nation gambling compact

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A legislative committee today recommended adoption of a new gambling compact between the state of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.

The recommendation, which the compacts committee approved on a vote of 11-4, means the proposed gambling agreement will go to the Senate and the House for a vote. Under state law, the Legislature votes yes or no on the compact but cannot make changes to it.

The agreement, negotiated between Gov. Susana Martinez’s office and the Navajo Nation, makes changes to an existing 2007 compact and allows the Navajos to have five casinos. There are currently two. Tribal officials told lawmakers it hadn’t been determined where any additional casinos would be located.

Approval of the compact was opposed by some pueblos with casinos. Officials of those tribes said they didn’t like some of the provisions and were concerned that the Navajo agreement would create a precedent for their own negotiations with the governor’s office.

Some lawmakers who opposed the compact also said they worried that additional Navajo casinos along the Interstate 40 corridor would impact gambling facilities at nearby Laguna and Acoma pueblos. And they objected that the compact was being rushed through in the final few days of the legislative session.

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