Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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Pueblo of Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency Failing To Do Its Job

Patrick Sanchez & Rocket Gaming Systems

Did Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency, violate Isleta Gaming Regulations by accepting Rocket Gaming Systems’ (Rocket) payment of travel expenses to Nevada and California?

Sanchez is responsible for enforcing Isleta’s gaming regulations. He has numerous obligations under federal, state and tribal law. His obligations include deciding whether to grant, deny, suspend or revoke gaming licenses to vendors.

Vendors include any person or entity that do business with the Isleta Resort & Casino (IR&C).

Rocket is a vendor to the Casino. It leases Class II gaming machines to Isleta. Rocket gets a percentage of the revenue generated from their devices. Rocket must obtain and maintain a gaming license from Patrick Sanchez to do business with the IR&C.

Last year, Sanchez accepted  Rocket’s offer to pay his travel expenses to Las Vegas, Nevada. Rocket also paid for Sanchez to travel to Temecula, California to see Rocket’s Class II machines at the Pechanga Resort & Casino. Gerald “Jerry” Danforth, Rocket’s Vice President of Strategic Relations, offered to pay the expenses.

Expenses included costs for flights, hotel stays and meals.

One month later, Sanchez made sure that Rocket Gaming Systems was placed on the Isleta Tribal Council’s agenda to afford Rocket a chance to pitch their Class II gaming devices.

Sanchez has been the Executive Director since November 2012. He was appointed by the Council. Previously, he worked for the New Mexico Gaming Control Board conducting background investigations.

Editorial Comment

Was it a conflict of interest for the Executive Director of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency to accept Rocket’s offer to pay his travel expenses? 

Isleta Gaming Regulations, §5.3(A) state:

“A conflict of interest is a relationship or situation that exists or may exist concerning any Agency staff [and] . . . . vendors . . . which directly or indirectly relates to the Gaming Enterprise or gaming activity or the regulation thereof, AND COULD:

Diminish the Agency staff or gaming employee’s impartiality . . .

[or]

Result in the vendor . . . being given an unfair personal or financial advantage.” (Emphasis Added).

So, according to the regs, it was a conflict of interest for Sanchez to accept Rocket’s payment of his travel expenses because his impartiality toward Rocket COULD be affected.

Also, Rocket’s payment of his travel expenses COULD result in Rocket getting an unfair advantage.

In actuality, Rocket did receive an unfair advantage because Sanchez  made sure that Rocket Gaming Systems was placed on the Council’s agenda. This gave Rocket a unique opportunity to pitch their Class II gaming devices directly to the Council. 

Did Rocket violate gaming regs by paying the Executive Director’s travel expenses?

Isleta Gaming Regulations §5.3(C)(5) state:

“[a]ll vendors are strictly prohibited from giving or offering or proposing to offer any . . . benefit, or unusual hospitality of any value to any Agency staff member, Gaming Enterprise employee, or Tribal Official, with whom they are performing any gaming activity or transaction or with whom they are seeking licensor or are subject to regulatory authority.”

Rocket is a vendor and it is subject to the — “regulatory authority” — of Patrick Sanchez. Rocket paid his travel expenses to Nevada and California, which  would constitute a benefit.

So, YES — Rocket violated Isleta’s Gaming Regulations. In fact, even if Rocket didn’t actually pay the travel expenses, Rocket would still be in violation because the regs prohibit vendors from merely “offering” or “proposing to offer” a benefit to a person with the Isleta Gaming Agency.

Patrick Sanchez is responsible for ensuring the “integrity” of Isleta’s gaming operations. Yet, he ignored the regulations that he’s responsible for enforcing.

Perhaps this is the same reason that Sanchez failed to take action to protect the Casino from Tribal Attorney, Pablo H. Padilla. On numerous occasions, Attorney Padilla coerced the Isleta Resort & Casino into giving him free hotel rooms.

Why did Sanchez close his eyes to Padilla abusing his position?

What else is Sanchez ignoring?

The prior Council took no action against Sanchez. Why? 

Previously, the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency was known as the Isleta Gaming Commission. It had three persons serving as gaming commissioners. A prior Council abolished the Commission. It was replaced by Isleta’s current Gaming Agency.

The Council should abolish the position of Executive Director and re-establish a three person Gaming Commission to enforce all gaming regs.

Why?

Because the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency is failing to do its job.

Comps for Tribal Attorney Pablo Padilla

What are your thoughts?

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