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Richardson Signs Mescalero Gaming Compact

The Associated Press
   SANTA FE   —   Gov. Bill Richardson on Tuesday signed a gaming compact with the Mescalero Apache Tribe, formally ending years of litigation over gambling on the southern New Mexico reservation.
    Mescalero President Mark Chino and state Attorney General Patricia Madrid in April signed a settlement that ended a long-standing feud over the tribe's objections to the state's Indian gambling compacts and their revenue-sharing requirements.
    The Mescaleros have agreed to pay $25 million in back payments. The compact also calls for the tribe to share with the state 8 percent of revenues from its Casino Apache in southern New Mexico.
    "While the state and the Mescalero Apache Tribe have had our differences, I believe our shared goal of a strong economy in New Mexico and our mutual respect for each other's sovereignty has brought us together instead of further apart," Richardson said Tuesday.
    Richardson also praised Chino "for having the courage and wisdom to bring this matter to a close in an amicable and honorable fashion."
    "I find that the adversarial nature of the courts is not always the best place for friends to work out their differences," the governor said.
    The gaming compact will be sent to the U.S. Department of Interior for approval.
    Under the settlement, the Mescaleros will make an initial payment of $2 million and will pay the remaining $23 million once the Interior Department publishes notice in the Federal Register that the compact has been approved.
    The deal leaves Pojoaque Pueblo as the only New Mexico tribe that hasn't signed a compact with the state.