Tribes in New Mexico concerned over gambling expansion

Tribal leaders say the expansion would undermine their exclusivity provisions.
Tribal leaders say the expansion would undermine their exclusivity provisions.

Tribes fear the proposed expansion would threaten their economic livelihood.

US.- At least a dozen tribes in New Mexico have raised concerns over a plan to expand non-tribal gambling facilities in the state using a Las Vegas-style model.

At a legislative meeting on Monday, Native American leaders said that permitting unlimited slot machines, table games, online gambling and sports wagering at gambling facilities would undermine the exclusivity provisions in their revenue-sharing compacts with the state.

The governor of the Sandia Pueblo tribe, Stuart Paisano, told local media: “This proposed legislation presents not only a renewed challenge to our economic security but a reckless attempt to expand private wealth at the expense of our ability to provide essential government services.” 

At present racinos are permitted to operate up to six hundred slot machines for 122 hours a week.

If the proposed changes go ahead, they would be able to sell alcohol and have ATMs on casino floors, offer credit to existing customers and add complementary services such as meals or hotel rooms.

It would also mean the end to the central monitoring of slot machine activity by the Gaming Control Board.

While the changes would potentially void existing tribal compacts that bring in $70m for the state annually, a study has suggested that expanding gambling at racinos could produce more tax revenue.