Georgene Louis is the Executive Director of the Pueblo of Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency (Agency). She is responsible for enforcing all gaming laws on the Isleta reservation. This includes federal, state and tribal gaming laws. She is also responsible for ensuring that the Pueblo complies with the Tribal/State Gaming Compact.
For instance, federal law requires the Agency and/or the Isleta Resort and Casino to establish procedures to track complimentary services and items that the Casino gives away. This includes cash and non-cash gifts. Complimentary services means a service or an item provided at no cost or at a reduced cost.
At minimum, federal law requires the Casino and/or the Agency to collect and report the following:
- Name of customer who received the complimentary service or item;
- Name(s) of authorized issuer of the complimentary service or item;
- The actual cash value of the complimentary service or item;
- The type of complimentary service or item (i.e., food, beverage, etc); and
- Date the complimentary service or item was issued.
The Casino and/or the Gaming Agency is then required to make those reports available to the following:
- the Tribe;
- the tribal gaming regulatory authority;
- an audit committee,
- an entity designated by the Tribe; and
- the National Indian Gaming Commission upon request.
So, how are those entities using those reports to ensure compliance with gaming laws and regulations? If those entities are not using those reports to enforce the regulations, why aren’t they? If the Council is receiving those reports, then what are the Council Members doing with those reports? Isn’t it kind of idiotic for the Council to receive the reports since they are the ones getting the “comps” from the Casino?
Governor Eddie Paul Torres, members of the Isleta Tribal Council along with Tribal Attorney Pablo H. Padilla have all received “complimentary” services and items from the Casino.
What have they received? What were the values of the items and services that they received? Why are they receiving those items and services?
Tribal officials have received free hotel rooms, expensive meals, free clothing and tickets to concerts. The Casino has also paid the expenses for tribal officials to hold private parties at the Casino and at the Isleta Lakes. Why? What were those expenses? Which tribal officials received them? Are tribal officials using those “comps” to get themselves elected into office?
Currently, the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency allows the Governors and the Council Members to receive:
“. . . up to four (4) complimentary tickets to any event staged at the Gaming Enterprise premises. These tickets may be used at their discretion.” See, §5.7(E)(1) Pueblo of Isleta Gaming Regulations (POIGR).
The regulations do not allow tribal officials to get four (4) tickets to use at their discretion and another four (4) tickets to use at their discretion. The limit is four (4).
But, on several occasions, the Regulatory Agency has closed its eyes whenever tribal officials take more than the minimum number of tickets allowed under its own regulations. Why? Why is the Agency failing to enforce the law against tribal officials?
Is Georgene Louis capable of enforcing the regulations against Tribal Officials like Governor Torres, his Lieutenants and the Council members? Or, will she just keep her mouth shut, follow orders and collect a big fat paycheck from the Tribe?
Flashback January 2015
At the beginning of last year, the Tribal Council terminated Pamela Gallegos from her position as the CEO of the Isleta Resort and Casino. The Council was unable to find a legitimate basis to terminate Gallegos. But, Governor Torres and the the majority of the Council wanted her gone. So, the Council terminated Gallegos based on the legal advice of Tribal Attorney Pablo H. Padilla. See, Hush Money.
Padilla delivered the news to Gallegos. Gallegos responded by promising to disclose how tribal officials were abusing their power by obtaining “complimentary” services and items from the Casino. The Council quickly back peddled from its decision to terminate Gallegos. Instead, the Council immediately decided to pay Gallegos hush money to prevent her from going to the media.
So, on January 22, 2015, Council member Ulysses Abeita made a motion to approve a “settlement agreement” with Gallegos. The agreement allowed her to resign. To keep Gallegos quiet, the Tribe had to pay her four months of severance pay with benefits.
Gallegos and the Council also agreed to issuing the following statement:
“Ms. Gallegos and the POI agreed to end the employee relationship on mutual agreeable terms. The POI wishes Ms. Gallegos the best in her future endeavors and she wishes the Pueblo the best as well.”
Betty Lente seconded the motion. Voting yes: Verna Teller, Betty Lente, Ulysses Abeita, Barbara Sanchez, Frank Lujan, Michael Allen Lente and Fernando Abeita. The motion carried unanimously.
The Council then used the Tribe’s money to pay off Gallegos. Essentially, the Council covered-up how Tribal Officials were abusing their offices. Why did this happen? How could it happen? The primary reason was the failure of Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency to do its job.
At that time, Patrick Sanchez was the Executive Director of the Gaming Agency. Sanchez was failing to properly enforce gaming laws. This allowed Isleta tribal officials, past and present, to abuse their power. It allowed tribal officials along with Tribal Attorney, Pablo H. Padilla, to obtain free hotel rooms and other complimentary services and items at the expense of the Tribe.
Back to the Present
Now, it appears that the Tribe is heading in that same direction with Georgene Louis at the helm of the Regulatory Agency. Louis has refused to disclose what “complementary” services and items that our current tribal officials have received. She has also refused to disclose any information concerning the free hotel rooms that Tribal Attorney Pablo H. Padilla received from the Casino.
Instead, Louis is more interested in playing politics just like the former Executive Director Patrick Sanchez. For example, Louis is helping the Governor’s daughter, Renee Torres, get elected into judicial office. She served as a co-sponsor of Renee Torres’ meet and greet at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Fliers were posted at the Regulatory Agency.
Indeed, Georgene Louis violated Isleta’s Personnel Policies and Procedures to help the Governor’s daughter get onto the ballot for a judgeship with the Bernalillo Metro Court. To become a judicial candidate, Renee Torres had to gather a sufficient number of signatures for her nominating petition from residents of Bernalillo County. So, Louis allowed an Internal Auditor for the Regulatory Agency to gather signatures from Agency employees during working hours. The Internal Auditor was Shannon Torres who is also the Governor’s daughter.
So, just like Sanchez, Louis is busy playing politics instead of properly enforcing the Tribal/State Gaming Compact and federal, state and tribal gaming laws.
Failure to Enforce Existing Regulations
The Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency is failing to properly enforce gaming laws. For instance, Isleta gaming regulations requires the Agency to approve the purchase of slot machines BEFORE the Isleta Resort and Casino actually purchases the gaming machines.
The Regulations state:
“No person or entity may distribute, operate or place into operation any gaming device or related equipment on tribal lands unless . . . [e]ach gaming device is approved for purchase by the Agency.” See, §11.3(C) POIGR.
“No gaming device shall be purchased or distributed for use or play at any gaming facility, and the Gaming Enterprise shall not allow any gaming device to be used or played at any gaming facility, unless it has first been approved by the Agency.” §11.4(A) POIGR.
“The Gaming Enterprise shall not offer a game for play in any gaming facility unless it has first been approved by the Agency. . . .” §11.2(A) POIGR.
The Casino has routinely purchased Class II and Class III gaming machines without obtaining the prior approval of the Regulatory Agency. Why?
Jody Benavides worked as an Inspector with the Regulatory Agency for nearly four (4) years. While she was an Inspector, she reported several instances where the Agency was failing to properly enforce its own regulations. She reported the violations to her immediate supervisor Dorella Chewiwi. But, Chewiwi took no action.
Benavides requested an opportunity to report her concerns to the Isleta Tribal Council. The Council, however, did not even bother to respond to Benavides. That is the type of “respect” that the Tribal Council afforded to Benavides.
In an upcoming article, you will learn how the Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency is failing to enforce critical laws that are supposed to ensure the “integrity” of gaming.
- Hush Money
- Casino Vendor Felt Pressured to Sponsor Isleta’s Asset Protection Summit
- The Politics of Gaming at the Isleta Resort & Casino
- Executive Director Patrick Sanchez Moonlighting
- Pueblo of Isleta Gaming Regulatory Agency Failing To Do Its Job
- Comps for Tribal Attorney Pablo Padilla