A federal court ruled against an appeal submitted by the U.S. Department of the Interior and Pojoaque Pueblo versus the state.
US.- New Mexico has earned a victory in its case against the U.S. Department of the Interior and Pojoaque Pueblo after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver rejected on Friday an appeal made by both co-litigants. The agency wanted to earn the right to negotiate a gaming compact with the tribe but -at the moment- they won’t be allowed to do so.
Litigation began after a conflict between Governor Susana Martinez and the Pueblo over the amount of revenue the tribal casinos would have to turn over to the state. Martinez has won the upper hand after the federal appeals court ruled in the state’s favor and also supported its efforts to take action agains casino vendors that might deal with the Pojoaque Pueblo in the future.
Pueblo’s main business is the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino but there are other gambling venues that operate without a compact after the previous one expired in June 2015. The revenue issue with the state has stalled a new deal as the Pueblo calls the state demands “an illegal tax.” They have argued that it’s not legal for the state to require them to share their gambling revenues and have accused the governor of negotiating in bad faith. That’s why they asked for the secretary of interior to get involved and to approve the compact themselves. However, Martínez fired back at the Pueblo and said that they’re operating illegally since they haven’t had a valid compact for almost two years.
The ruling by the appeals court sided with the state since doing otherwise would have “stripped New Mexico of certain procedural protections or benefits” from the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. It also argued that the interference by the Department of Interior “wasn’t a valid excersise of its authority under IGRA.”
Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. Joe Talachy has stated that his administration is reviewing the court’s decision and chances that they will take any further action in the case are still uncertain.