The Albuquerque Journal reports ( http://bit.ly/K5UBU7) that the proposal that was unveiled in the last days of the 2013 session had run into trouble from the outset and was never voted on by the full Legislature. The Navajos' current compact and those of four other tribes expire on June 30, 2015.
The proposal negotiated between the Navajo Nation and Gov. Susana Martinez's office would be in force until 2037 and allow the tribe to have five casinos on the New Mexico side of the reservation, which has neighboring gambling tribes concerned about the competition. The Navajos now have two casinos and a third facility with low-stakes gambling not regulated by the state.
The pact also contains several terms that other gambling tribes view as unfavorable and that they worry could become a precedent for their own, separate negotiations with the state.
By law, the Legislature can't rewrite anything in the compact; it can just vote yes or no. But the committee on compacts can ask that the governor's office and the tribe renegotiate provisions it finds problematic—and it's possible such requests will be made.
Navajo Nation Council Delegate Lorenzo Bates says that's the point at which the tribe could consider whether any changes would be acceptable. Until now, there have been only informal discussions about possible alterations to the compact, Bates said, declining to be more specific.
The nine remaining tribes with casinos fall under compacts renegotiated in 2007 that run through 2037.
The Navajo Nation says allowing it five casinos is reasonable, considering that it has 100,000 enrolled members in New Mexico and a land base in the state of 6,500 square miles.
But neighboring tribes with casinos along Interstate 40 are worried that the Navajos would put a new casino in that area.
Democratic state Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming, who was a member of the Legislature's compacts committee during the 2013 session, said he senses even more disagreement among legislators now about the compact than there was when it was first introduced.
"I think they're reflecting the feedback they're getting from their respective tribes," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Martinez's office says it has had recent discussions with the other gambling tribes whose compacts expire in 2015 and the state "remains committed" to reaching agreements with them that also could be considered in the 2014 session.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com