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A federal district court in New Mexico has issued a decision finding that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s regulations permitting the Secretary of the Interior to adopt Class III gaming procedures for a tribe lacking a Tribal-State Compact are invalid and violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701 et. seq. (“IGRA”). If upheld, the decision in New Mexico v. Dept. of Interior could be expected to shift the balance of power to the states in the negotiation of new compacts and renewed compacts. The decision also may result in pressure on the Department of the Interior to exercise its role as trustee for tribes and sue states that fail to negotiate compacts in good faith.

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