The New Mexico Gaming Control Board is demanding that tribal gambling interests pay the state about $40 million in revenue sharing for “free-play” credit incentives that the casinos offer to entice patrons to lose their money. The tribes are suing the gaming control board in federal court to block the state action.
Regulators say Tesuque Pueblo owes about $3.2 million, Sandia Pueblo owes about $26.5 million and Isleta Pueblo owes about $10.3 million. Santa Ana and Santa Clara have recently joined the case.
The tribes and the state entered compacts in 2015 that did not require tribes to pay revenue sharing on future “free play,” but the state is insisting that the tribal casinos owe revenue sharing on “free play” incentives before that time. The federal government has sided with the tribes in previous court battles.
The whole battle also hinges around accurate reporting of income and revenue sharing from the tribes. A report by the Legislative Finance Committee in 2013 revealed that financial reports from the tribal casinos are “self-reporting” and not subject to normal state accounting scrutiny, so what they actually offer in “free play” and what they actually make in their gambling racket is anyone’s guess.
The whole casino system is designed to deceive and addict its patrons, and “free play” is just another hook to snag the unwary gambler.
It’s time for the government (state and tribal) to get out of the predatory gambling racket.