New Mexico tribes proposed casino in downtown Albuquerque

The 19 Pueblos tribes jointly own and operate the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. Photo from Flintco

Four New Mexico tribes proposed a casino in downtown Albuquerque, KRQE reports.

According to documents obtained by the station, Sandia Pueblo, Isleta Pueblo, Laguna Pueblo and Santa Ana Pueblo would have owned 90 percent of the casino and the remaining 10 percent stake would have gone to other tribes in the state. They planned a casino with a 400-room hotel and a 12,000 seat multi-purpose arena on a prime piece of city-owned real estate.

The proposal was described as a "game changer" by a top aide to Mayor Richard J. Berry, KRQE reported. But the city's leader instead went with a much smaller project -- a bowling lounge -- at the site.

“Although on paper and pencil it was the most viable option, it was an absolute no from the mayor’s perspective," chief of staff Gilbert Montaño told KRQE of the casino bid.

The 19 Pueblo tribes jointly own land near downtown Albuquerque but they cannot use it for gaming, a condition imposed by Congress through various land-into-trust acts. The tribes operate the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a hotel, a gas station, an office building and other developments at the site of a former boarding school.

Nearly every tribe in New Mexico is engaged in some form of gaming. Sandia, Isleta, Laguna and Santa Ana operate the casinos closest to Albuquerque.

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Mayor picked bowling over casino for Albuquerque’s downtown (KRQE 9/10

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