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Silvia Pavlof February 13, 2024 3 min read
Indigenous Community Considered for Casino Development in Raton, New Mexico
City commissioners recently voted in favor of transferring over 130 acres of vacant land to the Indigenous community, sparking discussions of constructing a casino complex in the area
Raton, New Mexico, a small town nestled 100 miles northeast of Taos, is looking to revitalize its economy through a unique partnership with the Pueblo of Picuris.
Raton Eyes Economic Boost with Proposed Casino Partnership with Pueblo of Picuris
The Pueblo of Picuris, one of the state’s smallest Indigenous communities with a population of approximately 300, has caught the attention of Raton officials. Negotiations between the city and the pueblo regarding the potential gaming facility have been ongoing for nearly three years, according to Raton Mayor Neil Segotta, reported the Colorado Public Radio.
The proposed development aims to take advantage of New Mexico’s tribal/state compact, which permits casino-style gaming exclusively on tribal lands. The transfer of the land to the Pueblo of Picuris could pave the way for the construction and operation of the casino complex, offering a potential economic lifeline to Raton.
Former Raton city manager Scott Berry emphasized the project’s potential as a catalyst for economic growth during a recent city commission meeting. He expressed optimism about the positive impact the casino could have on tourism and job creation in the region.
Berry stated that the proposal in front of the commissioners was very much designed as a catalyst for economic development in Raton. He added that it was the most powerful catalyst he knew of out there.
City Manager Reveals Ambitious Plans for Casino Development
Current city manager Richard Mestas echoed Berry’s sentiments, highlighting the expected benefits of the project. Mestas revealed plans for the development to include not only a casino but also the potential for additional amenities such as a hotel or restaurant. He also emphasized the city’s commitment to providing utilities to support the project.
Despite the commission’s approval of the resolution, Mayor Pro-tem Lori Chatterley clarified that it does not constitute a binding agreement. Chatterley emphasized that the resolution serves as a statement of intent to proceed with discussions and does not commit the city to the land transfer at this stage.
Chatterley affirmed that it represented a declaration of intent to proceed. She clarified that it was not a legally binding contract nor did it entail the transfer of property; rather, it served as a gesture of goodwill for future progress.
As plans move forward, a meeting between Pueblo of Picuris leaders and city officials is scheduled for later this month to further explore the potential partnership and its implications for both parties.