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Pojoaque tribe admit defeat in legal battle with New Mexico

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pojoaquenewmexico
al leaders from the Pueblo of Pojoaque have been forced to admit defeat in their two-year long legal battle with the state of New Mexico, signing a new gambling compact which guarantees the state a bigger share of the tribe’s casino revenue.

The tribe's existing compact with the state of New Mexico expired in June 2015 and ever since then officials from the tribes have been at loggerheads with state governor Susana Martinez over the terms of a new agreement which covers the tribes Buffalo Thunder and Cities of Gold casinos, north of the New Mexican state capital of Santa Fe.

Under the terms of the old compact, Pojoaque Pueblo paid 8% of its gambling revenue back to the state, however the proposed new compact would see this figure increase to 10.75%, costing the tribe millions of dollars in gambling revenue.

Efforts by the state to proceed on a similar compact arrangement with the state's seven other tribes were rejected in 2015, with Pojoaque leaders accusing state officials of negotiating in bad faith by seeking an unreasonably large share of the tribe's gambling revenue. These allegations were dismissed by the state who said that it was merely trying to establish an egalitarian approach to the way it deals with tribes.

Unhappy with the states conduct in negotiations, the Pojoaque took the state to federal court arguing that it could negotiate its new compact directly with the US department of the interior (DOI), but US District Court judges chose to block the DOI from intervening in the dispute, a decision that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld earlier this year.

Former US Attorney General Damon Martinez intervened to allow the tribe to continue to operate once its compact had expired, on the condition that the tribe reach a settlement with the state before September of this year, or face enforcement action.

Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. Joseph Talachy was finally forced to admit defeat and sign the new compact with New Mexico on Thursday.

In an interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper, Talachy decried the state's conduct, saying: “It’s kind of a terrible game the state played, and it was done intentionally to squeeze us exactly into where we are now. It’s sad they’re trying to subsidize their faults on the backs of the tribes.”

Joseph Cueto, a spokesperson for state Gov. Susana Martinez confirmed that the state administration would look to accept the new compact, saying: “We expect this to bring the issue to a close.

“As we’ve said all along, we’re simply asking that the Pueblo of Pojoaque play by the same rules as other New Mexico gaming tribes.”

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