Compacts | Legislation | Regulation
Series: The history of tribal gaming and race tracks in New Mexico

"In a ruling that opened the door for tribal gaming, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997 held that if state law criminally prohibits a form of gambling, then tribes within that state may not engage in the activity. But if state law regulates a form of gambling, then the tribes in the state may engage in that gaming, free of state control. That is the legal foundation which Indian gaming is based upon.

A year later the Indian Gaming Regulator Act (IRGA) was established by the U.S. Congress as the federal regulatory scheme that presently governs tribal gaming throughout the country. The act itself established Indian gaming into three classes, I, II, and III.

New Mexico Governor Bruce King appointed a task force to negotiate gaming compacts with the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Pueblo of Sandia in 1990. The task force later presented two negotiated Class III gaming compacts to King, but he refused to sign them.

In 1994 King was defeated for reelection by Gary Johnson, who had publicly committed to signing tribal-state gaming compacts if elected.

Johnson appointed Professor Fred Ragsdale to negotiate compacts with the various Indian tribes in the state.

In February 1995, thirteen identical compacts were signed between the state and the Acoma, Iselta, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque pueblos, and the Jicarilla and Mescalero Apache tribes. But later in the year, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that Johnson lacked the authority to sign the compacts on behalf of the state.

Then in 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court found that certain provisions in the IGRA were unconstitutional in compelling the State of Florida to negotiate a compact. And a U.S. Court of Appeals, in the case Santa Ana v. Kelly, reasoned similarly to the New Mexico Supreme Court, that the governor lacked the authority to bind the state to the compacts and thus did not comply with the IGRA."

Get the Story:
Tribal gaming has unique compacts with the state (The Ruidoso News 8/6)
Differences exist between tribal, racetrack casinos (The Ruidoso News 8/6)
New Mexico Racing Commission oversees all aspects of racing (The Ruidoso News 8/6)
A culture of racing (The Ruidoso News 8/6)