In New Mexico, the federally-recognized Pojoaque Pueblo has reportedly turned off some 30 slots at its Buffalo Thunder Resort And Casino amid a threat from the administration of Republican governor Susana Martinez to invalidate the licenses of any firms that supply the tribe with machines.
According to a report from The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, the tribe, which also runs the nearby Cities Of Gold Casino, has additionally stopped using card-shuffling machines manufactured by Bally Technologies Incorporated in its poker rooms although it continues to offer nearly 1,200 slots along with most of its table games at the Buffalo Thunder Resort And Casino.
The newspaper reported that the Pojoaque Pueblo’s gambling compact with the state expired in June of 2015 but that the tribe has yet to reach a new deal because it feels the revenue-sharing portion of any agreement would represent an illegal tax. It had accused the Martinez administration of negotiating in bad faith and later asked the United States Department Of The Interior to approve procedures for casino gambling.
The Martinez administration countered by alleging that the tribe’s gambling operations are illegal because the agreement of a compact is mandated under the provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Last month saw a United States District Court judge in Albuquerque agree and clear the way for the New Mexico Gaming Control Board to take action against companies that provide gaming devices to the Pojoaque Pueblo’s two casinos while the regulator has even threatened not to renew such suppliers’ licenses.
“We’re fighting for every other tribe in this country,” Joe Talachy from the Pojoaque Pueblo told the newspaper. “The damage was already done with the New Mexico Gaming Control Board, which threatened them with pretty heavy fines. We’re in a squeeze.”
The ruling from the United States District Court in Albuquerque moreover reportedly blocked the United States Department Of The Interior from negotiating future procedures but this judgment is now awaiting an appeal decision from the United States Court Of Appeals For The Tenth Circuit in Denver.
To make matters worse for the Pojoaque Pueblo, Friday reportedly saw the United States Attorney General For The District Of New Mexico, Damon Martinez, resign at the request of United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions after he had allowed the tribe to continue offering casino gambling while the compact case was on appeal. Under the agreed deal, the tribe was required to put into escrow any revenues that would have been shared with the state had an ultimate agreement been reached.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the darkened slots inside the Buffalo Thunder Resort And Casino, which is located about 13 miles north of Santa Fe, are manufactured by some of the industry’s largest firms including International Game Technology, Scientific Games Corporation and WMS Gaming. Talachy explained that the manufacturers had been leasing these units to the casino while the machines that remain operational are owned by the Pojoaque Pueblo.
The newspaper reported that the state and the Pojoaque Pueblo have long had a rocky relationship over gambling as the tribe openly operated a casino in violation of federal law prior to signing a first compact in 1995. It explained that any decision by the New Mexico Gaming Control Board not to renew or revoke the license of a vendor for supplying gaming devices to the tribe could moreover threaten that company’s business in other states as some authorities base their decisions upon actions taken by other jurisdictions.
“In February of 2017, the company obtained and reviewed an order issued by a federal district court in New Mexico relating to the Pojoaque Pueblo and we are following that order with regards to our relationship with the Pojoaque Pueblo,” read a statement from Susan Cartwright, spokesperson for Las Vegas-based Scientific Games Corporation.
Wednesday is reportedly set to see the New Mexico Gaming Control Board hold its first meeting since the judge’s ruling gave it permission to take action against those that supply gaming machines to the Pojoaque Pueblo while Talachy declared that the Buffalo Thunder Resort And Casino had already taken “a very painful hit” to its revenues and is now “stuck between a rock and hard place”.