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Backers of rejected Pueblo casino say proposal not dead

Las Cruces, New Mexico (AP) 1-08

Backers of a proposed off-reservation casino near Anthony that was rejected by the U.S. Interior Department during January say they have not given up on the project.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows off-reservation gambling only on trust land controlled by a tribe. But the Interior Department said in a letter that the proposed trust land 293 miles away from the pueblo was too far away to provide jobs to tribal members.

Jemez Pueblo and its partner, Santa Fe art dealer Gerald Peters, say they’re looking at their options.

“The people that advise the pueblo are still analyzing it,” said David Wilson, a spokesman for Peters’ company, Circle P Investments. “I think they feel it’s not over and there’s still an avenue there, but they have to research it.”

Jemez Pueblo was one of many tribes nationwide that received letters rejecting proposals for off-reservation casinos.

Dona Ana County Commission Chairman Kent Evans, a supporter of the proposed casino, said he’s spoken with Peters’ company and with tribal officials.

“From what I’m hearing, it’s not really a dead issue,” he said. “There’s still some chance this could still be turned around.”

The northern New Mexico pueblo applied on Dec. 23, 2004, for nearly 79 acres near Anthony off Interstate 10 to be taken into trust for the pueblo to build a major resort and casino, in which Santa Fe developer Gerald Peters would be an investor.

Pueblo officials sought the property because Jemez itself is too far from major population centers and faced too much competition from established casinos. About a dozen New Mexico tribes already operate casinos, many in the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas.

 

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