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Lawmakers ask for renegotiation of Navajo Nation gambling pact

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Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly on Friday appeared before the Committee on Compacts, which is renegotiating a gambling compact with the tribe.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly on Friday appeared before the Committee on Compacts, which is renegotiating a gambling compact with the tribe.

A legislative committee today voted to send a proposed Navajo Nation gambling compact back to the tribe and Gov. Susana Martinez for renegotiation.

The Committee on Compacts specifically requested that the number of allowable casinos be reduced from five to three, and that they be located at existing sites. The Navajos have two casinos now, along with a third lower-level gambling facility not subject to a compact.

Officials of the Navajo Nation are opposed to reducing the number of casinos, and indicated they will refuse to budge on the issue.

The Navajo compact is opposed by other gambling tribes that are concerned about more competition along Interstate 40 and worried that the provisions of the Navajo compact would become a template for their own negotiations.

Under state law, tribal gambling compacts cannot be changed by the Legislature. Instead, lawmakers can request changes. The Navajo Nation and Martinez’s office would report back to the committee, which will schedule another meeting.

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