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Navajo Approve Alcohol Sales in New Casino

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February 1, 2008

WINDOW ROCK, AZ - During their winter session, Navajo leaders debated the controversial issue of alcohol sales inside their first casino under construction near Gallup. Alcohol is prohibited on reservation land. In a narrow vote 38-36, delegates approved a measure to sell alcohol in the dining area. It now heads to President Joe Shirley Jr. for signature. He has said he favors the decision.

"I assumed it was going to be close because it was a sensitive issue,'' said Bob Winter , the Navajo gaming chief. "So I was not assured this was going to be a shoe-in by any means. A lot of consideration was put into the equation.''

Winter has said the casino could lose up to 10 percent of its restaurant income and 5 percent of its gaming income if the measure was not approved.

Alcohol sales will be restricted to the dining area and guests will have to order food before being served beer or wine. There will be security placed at the entrance of the dining area to insure liquor is not taken outside. There will also be a safe-ride service available to those who have been drinking.

Winters added "It serves no purpose for the facility to invite people to get intoxicated. It's meant to be fun and entertaining.''

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