Two lawsuits have now been filed against the state of New Mexico by the Pojoaque Pueblo over a new gaming compact.
The Pojoaque have been embroiled in a dispute with the state in a federal appeals court, and have been operating their two casinos, Cities of Gold and Buffalo Thunder Resort, without a valid Class III gaming compact since their previously negotiated compact expired on June 30th.
The Pojoaque object to new compacts which have already been signed and submitted for several other tribes prior to the expiration of the compact.
The new lawsuit is part of the ongoing dispute over the Pojoaque casino operations, and a new compact which would increase revenue sharing.
The higher rate was questioned by The Bureau of Indian Affairs, wondering whether tribes are getting anything substantial in return, but the agency allowed the agreement to take effect to the extent its provisions remain consistent with Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
The most recent lawsuit accuses the New Mexico Gaming Control Board of illegally interfering with companies that do business with the tribe, and also accuses Governor Susana Martinez (R) of failing to negotiate a Class III compact in good faith as required by the IGRA.
In a filing on Saturday, the Pojoaque Pueblo asked a U.S. District Court to award them hundreds of millions in compensation for the state taking business away from them by attempting to prevent vendors from conducting business with them.
The Pojoaque contend that denying license and renewal applications of individuals who do business with them is beyond the scope of the state, and that preventing equipment replacement and services is in breach of their contracts with the Pueblo.
According to the lawsuit, the Pojoaque provides 1,500 jobs and has a $43 million payroll and that that the higher revenue sharing terms will cause loss of revenue, layoffs, and will diminish the number of services provided by the government on the reservation.
The Pueblo formally requested that the State enter into a compact regarding the Pueblo’s Class III gaming activities on its Indian lands beyond the expiration of the current compact.
More than 180 days have expired since the Pueblo made its initial request.
The dispute is now before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, it won’t take action against the tribe while the case is pending.