By Associated Press - Tuesday, March 10, 2015

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly says the importance of New Mexico lawmakers approving a proposed gambling compact during this legislative session can’t be stressed enough.

Shelly made the comments Monday as the Legislature enters its final stretch. The session will adjourn March 21.

Agreements that allow a handful of American Indian tribes, including the Navajos, to operate casinos will expire in June.

If the tribes want to legally operate casinos, a new compact has to be approved by the Legislature before adjourning. After that, the compact would need the U.S. Interior Department’s approval.

Shelly says the proposed compact is the result of a long and tedious negotiation process with the state and that thousands of jobs are at stake.

Lawmakers are expected to take up the compact later this week.

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