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State, Pueblo to Meet for Settlement Conference

14 June 2005

Las Vegas Sun

SANTA FE -- The state of New Mexico and Pojoaque Pueblo will return to federal court next week to discuss their long-running fight over millions of dollars in disputed casino money.

A settlement conference scheduled for June 17 will be the first court action in the 2000 casino revenue-sharing case since late April, when a federal judge halted proceedings saying that serious negotiations between the parties were under way.

As of Friday, a spokeswoman said Attorney General Patricia Madrid has not agreed on final language of a settlement but that Madrid's office has been involved in "meaningful discussions" with the pueblo.

Pojoaque Gov. George Rivera declined to comment on negotiations.

Madrid alleges that the pueblo, which owns Cities of Gold Casino between Santa Fe and Espanola, owes the state more than $20 million in unpaid slot-machine revenue.

Madrid sued all of New Mexico tribes that had casinos in 2000 for violating a 1997 gambling compact with the state that required the tribes to pay 16 percent of their net slot-machine revenue to the state in exchange for limits on gambling competition.

The tribes had stopped their payments, prompting the lawsuit.

All of the tribes, expect Pojoaque, eventually settled. Revised compacts effective in 2001 require them to pay no more than 8 percent of their slot money to the state.

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