Isleta Pueblo Politics

By Christopher L. Abeita

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The Politics of Gaming at the Isleta Resort & Casino

Details Emerge on Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency, & Rocket Gaming Systems

As previously reported, Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency, made sure to get Rocket Gaming Systems (Rocket) on the Isleta Tribal Council’s agenda. This occurred after Rocket paid all expenses for Sanchez to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada and Temecula, California.

So, on April 7, 2014, John Haines and Carol Haylon from Rocket did a presentation of their Class II Machines for the Council. Their goal was to get the Council to lease their machines for the Isleta Resort and Casino (IR&C).

Casino management was not in favor of leasing Class II machines from Rocket because they don’t bring in as much revenue as Class III machines. Slot Director, Zeke Perez, was placed on a future agenda to respond to Rocket’s information. 

So, at a subsequent meeting, Perez informed the Council that Class II machines did not generate as much net win as the Class III Slots. The Casino would also be required to pay 15% to 20% in participation payments.

Nevertheless, to appease Council Members that were leaning in favor of Class II machines, the Casino suggested that — if the Council wanted Class II machines, perhaps the Casino could place them in locations where alcohol is served because Class III gambling is not permitted wherever alcohol is served. This would avoid having to displace Class III machines from the Casino’s floor.

On May 20, 2014, Council member Fernando Abeita asked Patrick Sanchez whether Rocket paid all of his travel expenses along with Lt. Gov. Antonio Chewiwi to go to Nevada and California. He also asked Sanchez whether it was a conflict of interest for Rocket to have paid their expenses. Sanchez did not respond.

As a result, the Isleta Human Resources Department (HR) conducted an investigation into Sanchez and his relationship with Rocket. At that time, Karen Parrish was the Director of the HR Department. She submitted a report to the Council on September 16, 2014, which is approximately 4 months after Council Member Fernando Abeita raised questions about a “conflict of interest” for Sanchez.

Patrick Sanchez defended himself by telling HR that Governor Eddie Paul Torres was fully aware of Rocket paying all travel expenses to Nevada and California. And, Governor Torres expressed no concerns. Instead, the Governor requested that Rocket include Lt. Chewiwi on those trips. So, Sanchez felt that he did nothing wrong because the Governor was fully aware of Rocket paying for the trips.

The HR report also uncovered Sanchez’s failure to obtain permission to continue with his self-employment as a bus inspector for the Pueblo and maintain his position as the Executive Director. The prior Council, however, took no further action on the matter.  Some Council Members are claiming that no action was taken because their term ran out before they could take any action. 

Editorial Comment

Isleta gaming regulations prohibit vendors from offering to pay travel expenses of regulatory agents. So, it is irrelevant whether Governor Torres was aware of Rocket paying for the travel expenses because Torres lacks authority to ignore the law. And, Sanchez should’ve been well aware of the prohibition.

Rocket side stepped Casino Management by going directly to the Council to pitch their Class II machines. They bypassed Casino management  with the help of Patrick Sanchez, Executive Director of the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency.

Sanchez has absolutely no business trying to influence what types of machines the Casino leases. He’s a regulator.  His job is restricted to ensuring that the Casino and vendors comply with gaming laws.

The Casino’s management should be deciding what types of machines to install at the Casino. Those are business decisions, which should be left to the people with the expertise to make those decisions.

Indeed, the Council shouldn’t be involved in deciding what type of machines to install at the Casino because they don’t have the expertise to make those decisions either.

The big question is: Why is Patrick Sanchez ignoring gaming regulations to help Rocket?

Sanchez needs to begin doing his job. He needs to  ensure that appropriate laws are in place to protect the Casino and the “integrity” of gaming. And, he is supposed to be enforcing those laws.

But, he isn’t. As a result, we have tribal officials sticking their hands in the cookie jar along with Tribal Attorney Pablo Padilla. 

Why isn’t Sanchez doing anything to prevent tribal officials from abusing their authority?

Why is the Casino paying for tribal officials to enjoy free meals at Embers Steakhouse? 

Why is the Casino paying for the birthday celebration of tribal officials? Do you think that should be permissible?

We already know that Pablo Padilla, the tribal attorney, was enjoying free rooms from the Casino. Would it be interesting to know which other tribal officials, past and present, were also indulging at the expense of the Tribe?

Which tribal officials were going on travel at the expense of the Tribe to watch basketball games during March Madness?

Don’t we, as tribal members, have the right to know how our elected officials are spending the TRIBE’S money?

Pueblo of Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency Failing To Do Its Job


Executive Director Patrick Sanchez Moonlighting


Comps for Tribal Attorney Pablo Padilla

What are your thoughts?

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