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NM governor orders police to block access to casino

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Associated Press and NEWS 9

SANTA FE, N.M. -- Governor Bill Richardson has ordered state police to block access to a high-stakes bingo parlor built in southern New Mexico by Oklahoma's Fort Sill Apache Tribe.

Richardson says he was forced to take action after receiving no assurances from the federal government that it would either approve or reject the tribe's plans for a gaming operation at the site.

The federal government holds the 30-acre site at Akela in trust for the Fort Sill tribe, which has been putting up portable buildings for the bingo parlor.

Tribal Chairman Jeff Houser says his tribe will not be intimidated or harassed.

"It's completely inappropriate for the governor to meddle in tribal-federal affairs," said Houser. "We will deny access to people who are going to partake in illegal activity, which is illegal gambling in this case."

He said it's completely inappropriate for a governor to meddle in tribal and federal affairs.

Houser says the casino is still under construction and will not be ready for at least a month,

He also says the tribe is still working on regulatory issues with the National Indian Gaming Commission.

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