The nation council agreed to casino-style gambling for the Canoncito Band of Navajos west of Albuquerque, voting 57-12 in Window Rock, Ariz., in late July. The resolution gives the band the right to pursue a gaming compact with New Mexico. It amends the nation code to decriminalize gaming "if done pursuant" to a gaming compact and applies only to To'hajiilee Chapter of the Canoncito Band. President Kelsey Begaye, who vetoed an earlier council attempt to approve gambling on the entire reservation, must act on the measure. Some 6.5 million vehicles pass the area off Interstate 40 each year, and the casino could draw customers from the Albuquerque metropolitan area, about 25 miles to the east. The master plan calls for a casino-hotel, convention center, truck stop and golf course near a planned I-40 exit eight miles east of the Rio Puerco. Officials said a $30 million to $40 million outside investment is needed to keep up with casino projects by surrounding tribes. Isleta Pueblo and Sandia Pueblo have casinos, as does Laguna Pueblo, only a few miles from To'hajiilee. Construction would be two to three years away. A nation gambling ordinance outlining rules and regulations for the chapter must be approved, for starters.
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