The pueblo plans to open a casino in downtown Espanola by March on property it owns has met with some opposition from the city, but meetings were planned with tribal members and city officials to air economic development plans. Construction on the casino is underway in a building the pueblo owns at Big Rock Shopping Center. The casino is meant to help get the pueblo out of economic difficulties that increased after May's Cerro Grande Fire in northern New Mexico burned parts of Santa Clara Canyon, where the pueblo government has charged for recreation permits, said pueblo attorney Richard Hughes. He said the pueblo doesn't need permission from any government agency to open the casino. "We've got a compact in place. The land is ours (from an original Spanish land grant). There's no other federal action that's required. We're free to move ahead, just like every other tribe did in terms of establishing their own casinos." Espanola has no regulatory authority over the shopping center, Hughes said. The casino, in an Espanola shopping center, would operate under a gambling pact signed in 1997 with the state of New Mexico and the federal government.
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