The Santa Clara Pueblo tribe of New Mexico is asking the federal government to shut down the Pojoaque Pueblo’s casinos.
The Pojoaque are currently enmeshed in a dispute with the state in a federal appeals court, and according to the U.S. attorney the matter should be left alone until that litigation is concluded.
Currently, the Pojoaque Pueblos are operating their two casinos, Cities of Gold and Buffalo Thunder Resort, without a valid Class III gaming compact (required by federal law for tribal casinos), and have been doing so since the compact expired on June 30th.
The expired compact required the Pojoaque Pueblos to pay state regulatory fees and contribute to problem-gambling treatment, abide by limits on serving alcohol, providing free food and lodging, and keep the minimum age of 21 for gambling, among other requirements.
The Pojoaque have stated that it would continue to abide by the terms of the expired compact and would hold revenue sharing payments to the state in a trust.
However, the Santa Clara contend that the commitments the Pojoaque outlined in the letter to the U.S. Attorney fall short of what it was required to do in the expired compact.
They maintain that by allowing the Pojoaque to operate its casinos illegally and under more favorable conditions, it gives them a substantial competitive advantage over other gambling tribes which in turn would take a financial hit because of it.
Pojoaque gambling operations are north of Santa Fe, about 10 miles south of the Santa Claran Hotel Casino in Española.
Tribes including the Ohkay Owingeh pueblos, Zumi, Isleta and Taos have already signed compacts with the state and will be able to operate legally within New Mexico.
In addition, the U.S. Interior Department has signed the compact and submitted it for final approval for the Acoma and Jemez pueblos, Jicarilla Apache nations and the Navajo Nation.
The Pojoaque object to increasing revenue sharing when casino gambling is struggling, and wants a compact to include an end to revenue sharing, to be able to serve alcohol in gambling areas, and the legal gambling age lowered to 18.
The compact rejected by New Mexico Governor Susan Martinez, and blocked by a federal judge, is now before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.