The Pueblo of Pojoaque owns and operates the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in New Mexico. Photo: MyEyeSees

Gaming companies threatened for doing business with Pueblo of Pojoaque

Six gaming companies who were threatened for doing business with the Pueblo of Pojoaque have entered into settlements with state regulators, The Santa Fe New Mexican reports.

The companies continued to work with the tribe while a gaming dispute was playing out in the courts. One lawsuit was aimed at stopping the New Mexico Gaming Control Board from taking action against the vendors.

The board was threatening not to renew licenses for the vendors, a move that would prevent them from doing business with other entities in the state and which could even hurt their business in other states.

But after the tribe lost the case and was forced into signing a new Class III gaming compact after losing a second lawsuit, the companies agreed to make payments to the state in order to have their licenses renewed, The New Mexican reported.

According to the paper, the first settlement was reached last August, a month after the tribe lost the vendor lawsuit. The most recent settlements came in January, the paper reported.

According to the paper, Aristocrat Technologies, Bally Gaming, Everi Games, Glory Global Solutions, International Game Technology and Konami Gaming entered into the settlements. All of the companies have done business in the state as far back as 2016, according to a licensee list from that year.

The dispute was triggered by the state's demand for more gaming revenues. A new compact requires tribes to share between 9 percent and 10.75 percent of Class III revenues, up from 8 percent in a prior agreement.

During the Obama administration, officials at the Bureau of Indian Affairs questioned the increase because they said it appeared the state wasn't offering anything "meaningful" in return. But the agency allowed the compact to go into effect and every tribe has since accepted it.

The Pueblo of Pojoaque initially attempted to go around the state by securing approval to offer Class III games directly from the BIA. But the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals determined that option was not available to the tribe because the state was never found to been negotiating in "bad faith."

The process never got to that point because the state asserted a sovereign immunity defense when the tribe first brought up the issue in court.

The tribe relented and signed the compact last August. The agreement took effect in October, but only to the extent that its provisions are consistent with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Throughout the dispute, the tribe deposited revenues that would have gone to the state into a trust fund. The federal government has since seized more than $10.1 million from that account, claiming they represent the proceeds of "illegal gambling."

The tribe fired back last week, accusing federal prosecutors in New Mexico of going back on their word regarding the trust. The May 29 counterclaim seeks the return of the $10.128.847.42 plus "accrued interest."

A pre-trial conference is scheduled in federal court in Albuquerque on June 18 to discuss the matter, according to court records.

Read More on the Story:
Suppliers settle with state in dispute over tribal casinos (The Santa Fe New Mexican May 28, 2018)

10th Circuit Court of Appeals Decisions:
Pueblo of Pojoaque v. State of New Mexico (July 18, 2017)
New Mexico v. Department of the Interior (April 21, 2017)

Federal Register Notice:
Indian Gaming; Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact Taking Effect in the State of New Mexico (October 26, 2017)

Related Stories:
Pueblo of Pojoaque loses $10 million in gaming revenues in dispute (March 26, 2018)
Pojoaque Pueblo agrees to sign gaming deal with higher revenue sharing rate (August 7, 2017)
Pojoaque Pueblo loses big decision in gaming dispute with state (April 24, 2017)
Nearly every New Mexico tribe operating with 'approved' gaming compact (January 9, 2017)
Pojoaque Pueblo disputes state's 'illegal tax' on gaming revenues (May 11, 2016)
Two more Class III gaming compacts in New Mexico go into effect (April 5, 2016)
Pojoaque Pueblo rebuffed in complaint against state gaming board (January 25, 2016)

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