Navajo leaders have been lobbying the Legislative Finance Committee in hopes of getting an early start on getting approval from the legislature for new compacts before their current compacts expire in 2015. If the compacts don’t get approved by the legislature this coming legislative session, revenue sharing could stop, and the National Indian Gaming Commission could possibly shut down the two operating tribal casinos.
The new Navajo compacts would be quite similar to the compacts that permit the other tribal and pueblo casinos to operate, and would also be in force until 2037. An article on the compact proposals was written up in the Santa Fe New Mexican on October 26, 2013.
The new compacts do nothing to improve the black hole auditing conditions already present in the New Mexico tribal casinos. All of the tribal casinos do self-reporting of income, with state “auditors” unable to monitor live operations. The state representatives are supposed to accept the financial reports given by the casinos without having the ability to check live data. It’s sort of an “honor system,” where you have to depend on the honor of the gambling industry.
The new compacts also allow the Navajo casinos to have 20% of their slots be Class II “Bingo” machines. These machines look and play just like regular Class III slot machines, but have differences in internal programming that allows the gambler to play against a pool of gamblers, whereas the Class III slots play against the house. The casino still is able to slowly bleed the players at about the same rate as the other machines. The Navajos will not be required to pay revenue sharing on the take from the Class II machines, causing the state to lose millions of dollars.
Anyone visiting the two Navajo casinos in New Mexico can see that about ninety percent of the victims of the addiction machines are Navajos, themselves. We wonder how the tribal council can look at themselves in the mirror, knowing they are destroying their own people. Slot machines everywhere make at least 50% of their income from problem gamblers–people whose lives are out of control.
There is no way that casino gambling can be “fair,” or “honest,” but the legislature should at least know how these compacts are even worse than their predecessors.