Navajo Nation and New Mexico gaming compact passes

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - On Dec. 19 Navajo committee members passed legislation approving a new state gaming compact between the Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico that includes new revenue sharing formulas.

The Navajo Nation's current 2001 gaming compact is set to expire June 30, 2015.

Former Speaker Pro Tem LoRenzo Bates said the compact is the result of months of negotiations with New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez's office.

"[The negotiations have] resulted in a compact that is fair for our people and for the people of New Mexico," he said.

The Navajo Nation operates casinos under the 2001 New Mexico Indian Gaming Compact, but a new 2014 gaming compact the Nation hoped New Mexico legislators would pass this past spring failed in the New Mexico Senate.

Derrick Watchman, CEO of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise (NNGE), said since that time NNGE has worked with the council, Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly, the state of New Mexico and neighboring tribes to resolve concerns with previous compact proposals.

"NNGE's primary responsibility remains to fulfill the mandate from the Navajo people 10 years ago, which was to create and protect a Navajo gaming and hospitality economy that would generate jobs for Navajos and return revenue to the Nation," Watchman said.

The revenue sharing formula outlined in the compact shows that revenue for the state of New Mexico would increase from 9 percent to 10.75 percent over the length of the 23-year compact. The compact would expire June 30, 2037.

In 2014, the Navajo Nation generated $80 million and contributed approximately $6.3 million to the state of New Mexico through its revenue sharing agreement.

"Recently, within the last 60 days, we began working with other gaming tribes under the 2001 gaming compact and I believe it is a compact that is better for all parties," Bates said. "We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the other gaming tribes and to move the compact to the state legislature for ratification."

The Naabik'iyátí' committee approved the legislation and serves as the final authority for the legislation.

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