SANTA FE, NM-A Las Vegas developer has cleared a hurdle with the National Indian Gaming Commission regarding its environmental impact study for the Nambe Pueblo lands, where the plan is to build a 50,000-sf casino. The $50-million casino will be the first one run by the Nambe Pueblo tribe.

In the decision, the gaming commission says there will be no significant environmental impact to the tribe’s land due to the development. The casino will be built on 30 acres along US Hwy. 84, 15 miles north of Santa Fe. With the hurdle cleared, work can begin. The casino is slated to open in third quarter 2008. Andre M. Hilliou, CEO and director of Full House Resorts Inc., tells that a specific groundbreaking date hasn’t been determined, but it will take about one year to complete the development.

Although there is plenty of casino competition in the area, Hilliou says the market continues to be good for quality entertainment establishments. “This is the second closest casino to Santa Fe, which has great demographics,” says Hilliou, whose company also will manage the development after its completion.

William Thompson, a professor of public administration and specialist in gambling regulation for the University of Nevada/Las Vegas, says in a market like Santa Fe, a casino’s location determines its success. He adds that the New Mexico city is a tourist destination, but its visitors typically don’t go there for gambling as they would to Shreveport, LA or Las Vegas.

“The people who would frequent the casino live in the area and they’re serious gamblers,” Thompson says. “This particular casino will have to share the market, but if someone wants to play the games, they end up at the closest one.”

Hilliou, however, sees the competition as positive for his casino. “Players usually rotate between two or three properties,” he says.

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