The state of New Mexico, home to the Navajo and Pueblo tribal nations, could be the next battleground for online gambling legalisation reports the publication ABQ Journal.
Governor Susana Martinez appears to be using new gambling compacts with the tribes as leverage to ensure that internet gambling does not gain a foothold in the south-western state.
Under the proposed compact, the Navajos could stop sharing their slot machine revenues with the state if the state legalised any form of Internet gambling, including poker, ABQ reports.
The tribe would be required to enter “good faith negotiations” – and arbitration, if needed – on a new revenue-sharing agreement with the state that reflects the impact of Internet gambling on its land casinos.
Enrique Knell, a spokesman for Gov. Martinez, told the publication: “This provision was intended to discourage the adoption of Internet gaming in the state, while ensuring that, if Internet gaming is adopted, revenue sharing continues in light of any new benefit/detriment to the (Navajo) Nation.”
If approved by the Legislature, the proposed compact with the Navajos could become a model for new compacts with the state’s other gambling tribes.
The new compacts was negotiated with the Navajos but failed to make it through the state Legislature due to the end of the last session mid-March. It was, however, progressed by a joint committee on compacts, although there was not enough time to submit it to the vote in either the Senate of the House.
The compacts committee was aware of the internet gambling legalisation provisions, but these were not discussed in any depth.
It will therefore need to be re-submitted in the new legislative season
“While the impact of Internet gaming is uncertain, the state believes that brick and mortar (tribal) facilities will provide for more jobs and better serve the interests of New Mexico economic development,” Knell told ABQ.
“It’s also reasonable to believe that social and financial problems related to gambling could be worse if Internet gaming is allowed.”
Under the current compacts, the gambling tribes share a percentage of their slot machine revenues with the state. In exchange, the state limits its Class III, or casino-style, gambling to a state lottery, horse racing and slot machines operated by racetracks and fraternal and veterans organisations.
The proposed new compact with the Navajos would allow the tribe to stop making revenue-sharing payments to the New Mexico if the state authorised Internet wagering on any casino or poker games or entered a multistate Internet gambling agreement.
In the proposed new compact, the Navajos have agreed not to engage in Internet gambling as long as the state does not legalise it, and the US Congress does not pass a federal law to legalise Internet gambling.
Conversely, if the Navajos were become involved in Internet gambling, they would be required to share revenues from such an enterprise with the state, with the exception of earnings from poker.
Sen. George Muñoz, a Democrat who chairs the Committee on Compacts, told ABQ that the committee will meet this summer and that Internet gambling will be on the agenda for discussion.