Despite the fact that sports betting is not yet legal at state level in New Mexico, it was the sixth US state to have one of its gambling establishments offer sports betting markets. In this state, it’s the tribal gaming compacts that make legal sports betting a possibility. This certainly makes New Mexico an interesting case when it comes to US sports betting, with regulation under the control of the tribe’s gambling regulatory commission, rather than state lawmakers. So, what exactly does the New Mexico sports betting scene look like right now? We’ve got everything you need to know.

Is it legal to bet on sports in New Mexico?

Technically yes, though it has not been legalized at state level. Punters can legally bet on sports in New Mexico, thanks to a tribal gaming compact between the state of New Mexico and the Tamaya Nation, located at the Pueblo of Santa Ana. The sportsbook at the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel is the only gambling venue permitted to accept bets on sports under the compact, with sports gambling operations monitored and regulated in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

What sports can I bet on?

The Santa Ana Star sportsbook accepts wagers on all professional and collegiate sporting events, with the exception of games that feature the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State. This means that, whether residents want to wager on NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB or NCAA sports games, they can place all sports bets at the state’s single operational sportsbook.

Can I place bets online?

No, it is not yet legal to wager at sports betting sites or via sports betting apps in New Mexico, and there is not yet any sports betting legislation in the works. The sportsbook at the Santa Ana Star Casino is the only venue at which sports betting is currently permitted in the state.

Where can I place bets on sports in New Mexico?

In New Mexico, sports wagers can only be placed in person at the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel sportsbook. The Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel is operated by the Tamaya Nation in New Mexico. This is currently the only establishment in the state of New Mexico that offers sports betting, but this could change in the future.

 

Casinos with Sportsbook Location Contact Email Opening times
Santa Ana Star Casino Hotel 54 Jemez Canyon Dam Road, Bernalillo, NM 87004, USA +1 505-867-0000 Contact Via Website Sportsbook will be open:

Monday – Friday: noon – 8PM

Saturday – Sunday: 7am – 10PM

Tribal gaming establishments in New Mexico

New Mexico is home to several federally recognized tribal groups, but these aren’t all actively engaged in gambling operations. Tribal gambling in New Mexico was legalized in 1987, but it wasn’t until ten years later that the state government entered into its first tribal gaming compact. There are now 30 tribal gambling establishments across the state that offer a wide variety of gambling activities.

What else can I bet on in New Mexico?

While online gambling sites and commercial casinos aren’t yet legal in New Mexico, visitors and residents can gamble at tribal casinos across the state. The exact variety of games on offer varies between tribal casinos, but you can find these casino games across the state:

  •    Slots
  •    Blackjack
  •    Craps
  •    Pai Gow Poker
  •    Baccarat
  •    Roulette
  •    Three Card Poker
  •    Poker
  •    Bingo

Unlike other US states, social casino games have been outlawed in New Mexico. However, there are a handful of New Mexico racetracks at which bettors can make wagers on horse racing. As well as this, residents can take part in the New Mexico state lottery, though it’s only possible to buy tickets at participating retailers.

Are offshore gambling sites legal in New Mexico?

Offshore gambling and sports betting sites aren’t specifically mentioned in state legislation, but New Mexico does have a blanket ban on all online gambling, which extends to offshore gambling. This means that offshore gambling sites aren’t subject to any regulation, which means they aren’t obliged to implement any player protection measures or rules regarding the protection of player funds.

You can spot offshore gambling sites by looking at the website’s domain name. If you see a domain that ends in .EU or .AG it does not hold a license to operate in New Mexico and therefore should be avoided.

Is it safe to bet on sports in New Mexico?

Yes. New Mexico sports betting activities at the Santa Ana comply with the tribal gaming compact between the Pueblo of Santa Ana and New Mexico government.

However, it’s also up to bettors to take a responsible approach to gambling, in order that it remain fun. If you have any concerns that you, or a loved one, may be suffering from problem gambling, you can seek support from the New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling.

You can contact the New Mexico Council on Problem Gambling via:

Tel: 505-897-1000

Fax: 505-897-1115

Email: copgambl@qwestoffice.net

Who regulates sports gambling in New Mexico?

It’s the New Mexico Gaming Control Board (NMGCB) that regulates the majority of gambling in New Mexico, but the New Mexico Racing Commission is responsible for the regulation of the pari-mutuel horse racing market in the state.

You can contact the New Mexico Gaming Control Board Via:

Main: 505-841-9700

Fax: 505-841-9725

online form

You can contact the New Mexico Racing Commission via:

Phone: 505-222-0700

Fax: 505-222-0713

Email: rc.info@state.nm.us

How old do I have to be to gamble in New Mexico?

The legal gambling age in New Mexico differs depending on the gambling activity in question. While the minimum age for betting on dog racing, horse racing and playing bingo is 18, you must be 21 to participate in all other forms of gambling, including casino games and sports betting.

The journey to legal and regulated sports betting in New Mexico

It’s important to remember that sports betting has not yet been legalized, at state level, in New Mexico. As it stands, tribal gambling establishments are the only venues that have the legal right  to offer sports betting in New Mexico under the gaming compacts.

1987 – After a lengthy court case between the State of California and the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the Supreme Court ruled that tribal communities could operate casinos outside of the state’s jurisdiction because they are recognized as a sovereign nation. As long as a state does not prohibit all forms of gambling, a Native American tribal group are free to operate a casino establishment.

1988 – The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) was established by congress and used as the federal regulatory framework that would go on to govern gambling at native American establishments throughout the US. This act broke down different gambling activities in to different classes, Class I, Class II and Class III.

1990 –  Bruce King, the New Mexico Governor at the time, appointed a task force that would be responsible for negotiating tribal compacts with two tribes: the Pueblo of Sandia and Mescalero Apache Tribe.

1991 – King’s task force negotiated two Class III gaming compacts before him, but he refused to sign them.

1992 – Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) prohibiting sports betting across US states. Four states were made exempt from the law: Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. These states had legal sports betting regulations in place.

1994 – King lost to Gary Johnson during the election for Governor. Part of Johnson’s campaign highlighted that he would be committed to signing the tribal-state compacts if he was elected Governor.

1995 – The state’s new Governor, Johnson, appointed Professor Fred Ragsdale to help negotiate compacts between the state and the tribal communities. In February 1995, 13 compacts were signed between the state and various tribes, each of which were identical. The 13 tribes to have successfully negotiated compacts were the:

  •    Pueblo of Acoma
  •    Pueblo of Isleta
  •    Pueblo of Laguna
  •    Pueblo of Pojoaque
  •    Pueblo of Sandia
  •    Pueblo of San Felipe
  •    Pueblo of San Juan
  •    Pueblo of Santa Ana
  •    Pueblo of Santa Clara
  •    Pueblo of Taos and Tesuque
  •    The Jicarilla and Mescalero Apache Tribes

However, later this year the supreme court of New Mexico ruled that Johnson did not have the authority to sign the tribal compacts on behalf of the state. This ruling was made during a court case between Johnson and the state.

1996 – During the US Supreme Court case of the Seminole Tribe of Florida v. Florida, the Supreme Court found that certain aspects of the IGRA were unconstitutional when it came to the discussion of tribal-state gaming compacts.

1997 – The US Court of Appeals argued that, in the case of Santa Ana v Kelly, the New Mexico governor lacked the authority to sign the tribal-gaming compacts into law and did not comply with the IGRA. The same verdict had been granted during the 1995 case. The gaming compacts were reintroduced in the 1997 New Mexico legislative session and were approved by the state lawmakers. Johnson signed the compacts.

1999 – The state of New Mexico implemented the Compact Negotiation Act, streamlining and formalizing the compact negotiation process between the tribes and state.

2000 – The New Mexico Attorney General sued the gambling tribes for non-payment of “revenue sharing” under the 1997 compacts. All of the gambling tribes in New Mexico, apart from the Mescalero and Pojoaque people, settled the case.

2001 – The state negotiated and approved new gaming compacts. All of the tribes mentioned above, apart from the Mescalero and Pojoaque people, signed the 2001 compacts.

2003 – The Navajo Nation and the state of New Mexico entered into a 2001 gaming compact.

2004 – The Mescalero Apache Tribe, who didn’t previously sign the revised compacts, settled its dispute with the state and entered a compact.

2005 – The Pueblos of Pojoaque settled their dispute with the state and entered a gaming compact.

2007 – Amendments were made to the 2001 Tribal-state Class III gaming compacts by the New Mexico state lawmakers. The amendments extended the expiration dates of the compacts from 2015 to 2037, increased the payments that would be made to the state and placed limits on the number of casinos and racetracks tribes could operate. Nine tribes signed the amended compacts these tribes, including:

  •  Pueblo of Isleta
  •  Pueblo of Laguna
  •  Pueblo of Sandia
  •  Pueblo of San Felipe
  •  Pueblo of Santa Ana
  •  Pueblo of Santa Clara
  •  Pueblo of Taos and Tesuque
  •  Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh

Two other non-gambling tribes also signed the amended compacts: the Pueblo of Nambe and the Pueblo of Picuris.

2008 – The Apache Tribe in Fort Sill made attempts to build two new casinos that were not covered by the gaming compacts, but the construction of both venues never came to fruition. The Tribe in Fort Sill insisted that they wanted to build a bingo and casino establishment and Governor Bill Richardson pressured the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) to help. The NIGC eventually sent a letter to the tribe saying that they would face legal action if they attempted to open a gambling establishment. Later that year, the tribe opened a restaurant on the land the casino would have been built on.

2009 – In April, the Apache Tribe in Fort Sill began offering paper bingo games. The NIGC ordered the tribe to stop in July and threatened them with fines of $25,000 for every day they continued to offer bingo.

The tribe filed a motion to the federal court to force the NIGC to recognize the terms of the 2007 settlement. The tribe felt this settlement entitled them to operate a casino in the south of New Mexico.

In September, bingo operations were stopped and fines were suspended until the outcome of the appeal.

2014 – The Apache Tribe took the NIGC to court for failing to rule on the earlier appeal. The case has not been resolved.

2018 – On 14 May, the court reached a decision. In a 7 – 2 vote it was agreed that one of the clauses in PASPA violated the Tenth Amendment as it commandeered power from states to regulate their own gambling industries. This paved the way for all US states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting. US sportsbooks begin to open across the country.

On 8 October, USBookmaking announced it had partnered with the Santa Ana Star Hotel and Casino in New Mexico which would begin offering sports betting in the state on 16 October. Although the state had not legalized sports betting at the time, under the tribal-state gaming compact, the launch of a sportsbook did not violate any laws.

On 6 November, the New Mexico Lottery Authority approved the launch of a brand new sports lottery game. This game was essentially a form of parlay betting where players would have to correctly predict the outcome of at least three sporting events.

This news was met with scrutiny from lawmakers in the state. Representative Jason Harper told local press that it was “ illegal” for the state lottery to offer sports betting. He even described the lottery as “a rogue lottery”.

2019 – At the start of February, lawmakers in New Mexico introduced a bill that would limit the power of New Mexico Lottery Authority to offer sports betting. The bill, titled  HB 441, was introduced by Representatives Jason Harper, Matthew McQueen and Rod Montoya and aims to prohibit “any type of sports betting or betting on other real events.”

If this bill is successful it will significantly hinder the spread of legal and regulated sports betting in New Mexico. It could be a long time until we see commercial entities offering legal sports betting in New Mexico.

Be sure to check back with BettingUS for updates on the New Mexico sports betting scene.