New Mexico Indian Gaming Historical Perspective
The U.S. Supreme Court in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians basically held that if state law criminally prohibits a form of gambling, then the tribes within that state may not engage in that activity. However, if state law civilly regulates a form of gambling, then the tribes within the state may engage in that gaming free of state control. This is the legal foundation upon which Indian gaming is based.
IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) is established by Congress as the federal regulatory scheme that presently governs Indian gaming throughout the United States. The act itself established Indian gaming into three classes: Class I, II and III gaming.
New Mexico Governor Bruce King appoints a task force to negotiate gaming compacts with the Pueblo of Sandia and Mescalero Apache Tribe.
The Gubernatorial appointed task force presents two negotiated Class III gaming compacts to Governor King, but he refuses to sign them.
Governor King is defeated for reelection by Gary Johnson, who has publicly committed to signing Tribal-State compacts if elected Governor.
Professor Fred Ragsdale is appointed by Governor Gary Johnson to negotiate compacts with various Indian tribes. In February, thirteen identical compacts are signed between the State and the Pueblos of Acoma, Isleta, Laguna, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque, and the Jicarilla and Mescalero Apache Tribes. Later that year, the New Mexico Supreme Court in State ex. Rel Clark v. Johnson ruled that Governor Gary Johnson lacked the authority to sign the compacts on behalf of the state.
The U.S. Supreme Court in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida finds that certain provisions in IGRA were unconstitutional in compelling the State of Florida to negotiate a compact, in light of the state’s Eleventh Amendment immunity.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Pueblo of Santa Ana v. Kelly reasoned very similarly to the New Mexico Supreme Court decision in State ex. Rel Clark v. Johnson that the Governor lacked authority to bind the state to the compacts and thus did not comply with IGRA. The 1995 gaming compacts were then introduced into the 1997 New Mexico Legislative Session to comply with the court rulings. The compacts were approved by the legislature and signed by Governor Gary Johnson.
The New Mexico State Legislature adopts the Compact Negotiation Act which formalizes the process for compact negotiations between the Tribes and the State of New Mexico.
The Attorney General for New Mexico sues the gaming tribes for non-payment of “revenue-sharing” under the 1997 gaming compacts. All gaming tribes, with the exception of Mescalero and Pojoaque, settle the case with the State as a precondition to signing the 2001 gaming compacts.
New gaming compacts are negotiated and approved by the New Mexico State Legislature. All tribes sign the 2001 gaming compact, with the exception of Mescalero and Pojoaque.
The State of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation enter into a 2001 gaming compact.
The Mescalero Apache Tribe settles disputes with the State of New Mexico and enters into a 2001 gaming compact.
The Pueblo of Pojoaque settles disputes with the State of New Mexico and enters into a 2001 gaming compact.
Amendments to the 2001 Tribal-State Class III Gaming Compact are negotiated and approved by the New Mexico State Legislature. Nine gaming tribes sign the 2007 Amendments including the Pueblos of Isleta, Laguna, Sandia, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Taos and Tesuque, and Ohkay Owingeh. Two non-gaming tribes, the Pueblos of Nambe and Picuris, also sign the 2007 Amendments.