Interior of the Santa Ana Star Casino, owned and operated by Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico. Photo: I-5 Design & Manufacture
Compacts | Litigation

Two more Pueblo tribes challenge state's demand for gaming revenue

Two more tribes are refusing to share additional gaming revenues with the state of New Mexico.

The state claims Santa Ana Pueblo and Santa Clara Pueblo owe another $9 million in revenues derived from "free play" credits, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. But the tribes say the demand violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

"IGRA expressly forbids a state from imposing any 'tax, fee, charge or other assessment' on a tribe engaged in class III gaming, other than assessments of amounts 'necessary to defray the costs of regulating such activity," the two tribes said in a intervenor-complaint that was filed in federal court on Friday.

The tribes are seeking to join a lawsuit already filed by Isleta Pueblo, Sandia Pueblo and Tesuque Pueblo. Those three tribes say the state is demanding another $40 million in "free play" credits.

The tribes already share a percentage of their revenues under Class III gaming compacts that were reluctantly approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs during the Obama administration. But the agency said the agreements are only legal to the extent their provisions are consistent with IGRA.

New Mexico is home to more tribes with "deemed approved" compacts than any other state -- 16 total. The sole holdout is Pojoaque Pueblo, whose leaders refuse to sign an agreement in protest of the state's revenue sharing demands. The tribe's ability to keep offering Class III games in the absence of a compact is the subject of ongoing litigation.

Read More on the Story:
Two more pueblos join lawsuit against state over casino back revenue (The Santa Fe New Mexican 6/26)

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Pueblo tribes dispute state's demand for $40M in gaming revenues (June 22, 2017)