Navajo Nation leaders recently finalized the terms of a proposed new gambling compact with the state of New Mexico. The tribe’s current contract will expire in June. Navajo Nation Council Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates said in a statement the months-long negotiations with Governor Susana Martinez’s administration have resulted in a compact that’s “fair for our people and for the people of New Mexico.”
Under the proposed formula, the state annually would receive 2 percent of revenue up to $6 million, and 8.5 percent-10.75 percent in revenue sharing, based on net winnings and the number of years the 23-year compact has been in place. Navajo casinos generate about $80 million a year in net winnings, so the rate of sharing is expected to increase from the current 8 percent to 9 percent for the first three years of the agreement, bringing in an additional $1 million per year, then rise to 10 percent in 2018 and 10.75 percent in 2030.
The Navajos operate casinos near Gallup and Farmington. A third casino near Shiprock offers low-stakes gambling not subject to state regulation. The tribe also operates a casino in northern Arizona.
In the last legislative session, lawmakers rejected the Navajos’ proposal to open three more casinos over a 15-year period. Under the latest suggested compact, tribes with a population of more than 75,000 would be limited to three casinos and tribes with a population below 75,000 would be limited to two. Tribes that currently have more casinos would be grandfathered in if they agree to the compact.
The Jicarilla Apache tribe in northern New Mexico also has agreed to a compact that would allow it to operate its two casinos for at least 22 more years. Four other tribal compacts also are set to expire, though those tribes could sign on to new terms before the 60-day legislative session starts this month. After the legislature authorizes new compacts, they still must be approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior.