Navajo Nation May Negotiate Gaming Compact With New Mexico in Early 2013

ICTMN Staff
12/31/12

The Navajo Nation hopes to renegotiate its gaming compact with New Mexico during the 2013 regular session, which runs from January 15 to March 16. The current agreement is set to expire in 2015, and delaying a discussion till 2014 could put things in jeopardy. 

"Next year might be too late," Erny Zah, spokesman for the Office of the President of the Navajo Nation, told The Farmington Daily Times. The 2014 session is limited to 30 days and intended to review fiscal budget items only.

If an agreement is not reached and the Nation’s current gaming compact expires, the Department of Interior will most likely have to "step in and force a compact," new Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise CEO Derrick Watchman said.

The Daily Times reported conversations about changes to the compact have been taking place since November but details remain under wraps.

"These are discussions that are taking place right now, discussions that I'm not privy to," Jerome Clark, spokesman for the Office of the Speaker of the Navajo Nation Council, told the newspaper.

But the distribution of profits—namely the amount of revenue that goes to the state—is expected to be a major point of contention between the parties.

"We have no problem compacting with tribes, though there are times when we disagree about the language of the compacts," said David Norvell, a member of the New Mexico Gaming Control Board.

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