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US – Navajo gaming compact clears next round of approvals

By - 19 February 2014

House approval has been granted to the Navajo Nation to open three new casinos in New Mexico, taking its total to five, as part of a gambling compact approved by the state legislature.

The vote was 36-30, with opponents concerned about more casinos in a saturated gambling market and the impact of some of the compact’s provisions on other tribes’ negotiations. The compact must now be approved by the Senate, as well as the US Interior Department, for it to take effect.

Under the new deal, the Navajos will be allowed to open a new casino five years after the compact is approved. A fourth casino would be allowed after 10 years and a fifth after 15 years.

Nine other New Mexico tribes have different compacts with the state, approved in 2007, limiting them to two casinos.

The latest agreement will see the Navajos make higher payments to the state under the same terms as tribes covered by the 2007 compacts.

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly said: “It’s a good thing for the people. I foresee another casino being built to be a long, long way off.”

Republican Sandra Jeff added: “It’s economic development. That’s the bottom line.”

The three casinos would be limited to the sites of the tribe’s current two casinos; the Fire Rock Navajo Casino and Northern Edge Navajo Casino, and one Class II gambling facility. It hopes to prevent a new casino project to be built along Interstate 40 west of Albuquerque.

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