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Editorial: New Navajo compact limits Internet gambling

Though the proposed new gambling compact between the Navajo Nation and the state was presented to the Legislature with just over a week left in the session — too late, it turned out, for serious study and action — there is at least one aspect to it that on its face would be a positive when it does come under consideration.

The compact would make it a very difficult choice should the state ever play with the idea of expanding legal gaming options to include Internet gambling.

If the state did go down that road before the compact expired in 2037, there is the possibility that the Navajo Nation could stop giving the state a cut of its slot machine winnings. And it would kick off “good faith negotiations” on a new revenue-sharing agreement that reflected the impact of Internet gambling on the Navajo’s casinos.

Enrique Knell, a spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez, said, “While the impact of Internet gaming is uncertain, the state believes that brick and mortar (tribal) facilities will provide for more jobs and better serve the interests of New Mexico economic development.”

Ah. Jobs and economic development. That is the best reason for all those casinos and racetracks. (The lottery, of course, is for the children.)

But, Knell added, “It’s also reasonable to believe that social and financial problems related to gambling could be worse if Internet gaming is allowed.”

That’s an important consideration, and why allowing Internet gambling shouldn’t be an easy choice.

The state-sanctioned gambling genie is already out of the lamp. There’s no need to open a new box of virtual Pandoras.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.