New Mexico Gambling Sites
New Mexico only had few gambling options until 1995, when Governor Gary Johnson and Native American tribes agreed to a casino compact.
Now, you can find plenty of brick and mortar casinos spread throughout the state. The Land of Enchantment also features horseracing, a lottery and charitable gambling.
But what about online gaming and New Mexico gambling sites?
This is one of the biggest topics that we'll cover throughout this discussion on New Mexico's gambling laws.
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Online Gambling and New Mexico Law
New Mexico is another state that doesn't offer a definitive stance on online gaming. Instead, you must read through their other laws to get context on the matter.
Given that New Mexico hasn't officially made Internet gambling illegal, many offshore sites serve this state. This means you won't have to look far to find online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbooks here.
Just because offshore gaming sites serve New Mexico doesn't necessarily make it legal. That's why we're going to cover some important topics regarding the legality of iGaming in this state.
Is Online Gambling Legal in New Mexico?
Nothing in New Mexico's criminal code mentions "computer," "Internet" or "online." States that ban Internet gambling add one or more of these terms when declaring the activity illegal.
The problem, though, is that the state constitution does have some broad definitions that could deem online gaming illegal.
Here's how code 30-19.2 defines gambling:
Gambling consists of: A. making a bet; B. entering or remaining in a gambling place with intent to make a bet, to participate in a lottery or to play a gambling device.
This explanation encompasses any type of bet that's not approved by the state. The use of "gambling device" could be applied to computers and smartphones.
Anybody arrested for illegal gambling faces petty misdemeanor charges.
Another problem is that the New Mexico Gaming Control Board (GCB) claims that Internet gambling is illegal. Here's a statement via their website:
"Internet gambling is expressly prohibited by Federal law. This falls under 31 U.S.C.A. §5361, Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The State of New Mexico, and the New Mexico Gaming Control Board do not regulate, license, control or in ANY way sanction, endorse or approve any Internet or on-line gambling, betting activity, wagering or any aspect thereof. Any statement, reference or opinion to the contrary is wrong. Such activity is strictly prohibited and not authorized, approved or sanctioned in any manner by New Mexico regulatory authorities."
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) doesn't actually outlaw online gambling. Instead, the UIGEA makes it illegal for U.S. banks to process Internet gambling transactions.
This law was signed into effect in 2006 in hopes of stopping offshore gaming sites, but many of these companies have found ways around this banking law.
In summary, neither New Mexico nor the federal government have an anti-online gaming law in place. They also don't approve of the activity either, and it's illegal to operate a gaming site on New Mexico soil.
Will New Mexico Legalize Online Gambling?
Not in the foreseeable future.
The Land of Enchantment hasn't taken any serious steps towards legalizing iGaming beyond a daily fantasy sports bill.
This means that New Mexico's Internet gambling market will probably continue operating in a grey area for years.
One of the biggest problems is that the government is more worried about preventing rifts with Native-American tribes than looking at Internet gambling.
As we'll later cover, the state and tribes share casino revenue. This has caused contention between the two sides, and has taken attention away from potential iGaming.
Will I be Arrested for Gambling Online in New Mexico?
We can't find one instance of New Mexico arresting anybody for online gambling in their state. We do though, stop short of staying that there's absolutely no chance of somebody being arrested.
As covered before, New Mexico has vague criminal laws against gaming that could apply to anything. If the state really wanted to, they could pursue cases against online gamblers based on section 30-19.2.
But again, the odds of this happening are very slim.
New Mexico, as well as other states, have enough issues without having to worry about people playing at offshore gaming sites. That makes it very unlikely that they'd ever arrest you for gambling at an online casino.
How can Offshore Gaming Sites Operate in New Mexico?
Offshore gaming companies aren't licensed or permitted to operate in New Mexico. Yet, they still number in the hundreds in the Land of Enchantment.
What affords them this opportunity?
First off, New Mexico doesn't have any criminal statues directly aimed at Internet gambling sites. Only a few states cover this in their constitution, and even then some offshore sites ignore their laws.
Another problem is that it's difficult to go after an offshore gaming company because they're located in Antigua & Barbuda, Costa Rica, Curacao, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (Montreal, Quebec) or Panama.
Very few states have tried prosecuting an offshore casino or poker site when the owner doesn't live on American soil. The main exception involved the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York indicting the largest online poker sites (a.k.a. Black Friday). Even in this case, it took a federal attorney in one of the largest states to pursue these poker sites.
New Mexico has 2.085 million residents, and they're not overly concerned with online gaming. That said, don't expect them to incite Black Friday 2.0 any time soon.
How do I Pick the Best Online Casinos?
The best way to find a good gaming site is by reading reviews. After all, these cover a number of topics pertaining to the quality of an offshore site.
Here are key points you should keep in mind when reading reviews and/or visiting the sites directly:
- Bonus Terms and Conditions
- Customer Support Hours
- Volume of Games
- Banking Options
Some offshore companies have a sketchy history that includes bad customer service and/or slow processing of cashouts. Obviously you want to avoid these sites, and choose ones that have been operating for a while.
If you love picking up free cash from your play, then you need to play where bonus wagering requirements are light.
Aim for sites with 24/7 customer support. After all, who wants to wait several hours for a department that's only open 12 or 16 hours?
The more variety your gaming site offers, the more likely you are to be entertained long term.
Some offshore sites are limited in terms of banking options. This is why one of the first things you should do is check out what banking methods a site offers.
Breaking down what exactly is or isn't legal in New Mexico. Gambling Venues in New Mexico
Where to gamble in the state of New Mexico. The History of Gaming Laws in New Mexico
A brief history of Kansas laws regarding gambling. New Mexico Gambling FAQs
A list of questions asked about gambling in New Mexico Additional Information
Still have questions? Check out these links. The Future of Gambling in New Mexico
What does the future of gambling look like in Kansas?
More Gambling Laws in New Mexico
Shortly after New Mexico signed a compact with their tribes, casinos began popping up around the state. Now, the Land of Enchantment features 21 tribal casinos.
New Mexico and the tribes have an agreement that they'll share casino revenue.
As per a 2007 amendment, the tribes give 26% of their casino revenue to the state. In exchange, New Mexico promises not to allow commercial casinos and create more competition.
The two sides haven't always seen eye to eye. In fact, former Attorney General Patricia A. Madrid sued the tribes in 2000 for not sharing revenue. This led to an amendment in the state-tribal compact.
In 2014, the Pojoaque Pueblo Tribe wanted the state to drop the revenue-sharing model, allow alcohol on the gaming floors and lower the casino gambling age to 18.
"The state believes they created Indian gaming," said Pojoaque Gov. George Rivera. "The state becomes a partner if there could be a working relationship. When there's not a working relationship, Indian gaming doesn't go away. The state just becomes less and less involved."
Given that none of these things favored New Mexico, the state fought to prevent the Pojoaque from breaking their agreement. A federal judge sided with New Mexico, keeping the agreement intact with the tribe.
Charitable Gambling: Legal
The Land of Enchantment allows approved charities to offer bingo, door-prize drawings, raffles and pull-tabs. Casino nights, poker and any other skill-based card games are banned for charity purposes.
Charities must obtain special licensing if they want to offer payouts worth $100 or more.
New Mexico legalized their lottery in 1996, making them one of the latest states to do so.
The New Mexico Lottery offers Hot Lotto, Lucky Numbers, Mega Millions, Monopoly Millionaires' Club, Pick 3, Powerball, Quicksters, Roadrunner Cash and scratch cards.
New Mexico features 35 poker tables spread across a few tribal casinos.
While you can find most of the important poker variations like No-limit hold'em, Omaha, Pot-limit Omaha and 7-card stud, the lack of tables makes traveling a necessity.
La Mesa Park became the first racetrack to open in New Mexico in 1946. Today, several racetracks operate across the state.
Social Gambling: Not Specified
New Mexico's constitution doesn't exempt social gaming from illegal gambling.
Given that New Mexico considers any non-licensed gaming activity to be illegal, this doesn't look good for home poker games.
But we can't find any arrest records for social gambling functions in New Mexico. This means that as long as the host isn't profiting through rake, a house edge or by selling food/drinks, then you're probably in the clear.
Gambling Venues in New Mexico
You'll find several casinos around the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas, but New Mexico also has casinos mixed throughout other parts of the state, too.
The state's largest casino is the Sandia Resort and Casino, which has 2,300 slot machines. Santa Ana Star Casino is the second biggest, with 1,400 slot machines and 25 table games.
You can see details on these New Mexico casinos and a few others below.
1- Apache Nugget Casino
US-550 & NM-537, Cuba, NM 87013
2- Billy the Kid Casino & Racetrack
26225 US-70, Ruidoso Downs, NM 88346
3- Casino Hollywood San Felipe
25 Hagen Rd, Algodones, NM 87001
4- Cities of Gold Casino
10 Cities of Gold Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87506
5- Dancing Eagle Casino
167 Casa Blanca Rd, Casa Blanca, NM 87007
6- Fire Rock Navajo Casino
249 Route 66, Church Rock, NM 87311
7- Northern Edge Navajo Casino
2752 Indian Service Road 36, Fruitland, NM 87416
8- Sandia Casino
30 Rainbow Rd, Albuquerque, NM 87113
9- Santa Ana Star Casino
54 Jemez Canyon Dam Rd, Bernalillo, NM 87004
10- Sky City Casino
I-40 Exit 102, Acoma, NM 87034
History of Gambling in New Mexico
New Mexico's gambling history begins with pari-mutuel betting in the 1940s.
They didn't take another step towards legalized gambling until 1995, when they finally worked out a casino compact with the tribes after years of negotiations.
From here, their gaming industry took off quickly, and they now boast 21 tribal casinos. Unfortunately, this is as far as the Land of Enchantment has taken things.
They haven't gotten around to serious discussions on Internet gambling. In fact, the New Mexico Gaming Control Board is against online gaming.
Hopefully attitudes will change in the state, and we can add iGaming legalization to this list of gambling milestones.
La Mesa Park opens and begins offering pari-mutuel betting in New Mexico.
Governor Bruce King's Gubernational task force offers Class II casino compact to tribes; they reject the part.
Johnson signs casino agreement with 13 tribes. He also approves the state lottery.
New Mexico Lottery tickets go on sale; Johnson buys the first one.
State Legistlature and tribes amend 2001 casino compact.
House Rep. Nate Gentry introduces daily fantasy sports bill; it fails to advance.
U.S. passes the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, allowing state governors to negotiate casino pacts with Native-American tribes.
Gov. candidate Gary Johnson announces that he'll sign the casino pact if elected; he defeats King in the election.
Cities of Gold Casino quickly opens on the Pojoaque Pueblo reservation.
New Mexico Attorney General sues tribal casinos for not paying percentage of gambling revenue; state and tribes later agree to new pact.
Gov. Susana Martinez ars Fort Sill Apache Tribe from opening a new casino in Mexico.
New Mexico Gambling FAQs
Again, New Mexico doesn't address online gaming in their criminal code.
Given their broad legal language and attitude of their Gaming Control Board, New Mexico doesn't look favorably upon online gaming. This creates questions among residents who are online gamblers.
We'll answer some of these questions below.
According to ABC News, New Mexico follows a "predominance test" regarding DFS, where levels of chance and skills are measured to see if a contest is legal.
Right now, DFS is in a grey market that's served by industry leaders DraftKings and FanDuel. Unlike many other states, they've yet to offer a definitive statement on the legality of daily fantasy.
House Rep. Nate Gentry introduced a bill to legalize DFS in 2016, but the legislation failed to pass through the State Legislature.
Donovan Lieurance, a member of the Gaming Control Board, believes that DFS is illegal, but there's nothing in the state's criminal code that offers a concrete ruling on the matter.
Drawing conclusions from New Mexico's criminal code, gambling on your smartphone could be considered illegal.
Here's how code 30-19.1 describes an illegal gambling device:
"... means any contrivance, other than an antique gambling device, that is not licensed for use pursuant to the Gaming Control Act, and that, for a consideration, affords the player an opportunity to obtain anything of value, the award of which is determined by chance, even though accompanied by some skill, whether or not the prize is automatically paid by the device."
Our literal interpretation of 30-19.1 is that it covers video gaming machines, but the term "any contrivance" opens up the possibility that smartphone gambling is a crime.
Odds are, though, that you won't be arrested for this.
We covered earlier that New Mexico has never prosecuted anybody for gambling online. And we don't see anybody getting arrested for smartphone gambling until the government makes a concrete law stating otherwise.
The state and Native-American tribes have never had any serious discussions on a joint online gaming operation. This is an important step towards legalizing the activity because the two sides have a compact.
Tribes will fight any Internet gambling deal where they don't receive a share.
CasCase in point, the Navajo Nation threatened to break their revenue-sharing deal in 2013 if New Mexico got serious about legalizing online gambling.
The State Legislature's talks about iGaming never got too serious, but the Navajo Nation's reaction shows that certain tribes are a major roadblock towards legalizing the activity.
The New Mexico Gaming Control Board handles many matters involving the state's gambling operations.
The other big gaming entity in the state is the New Mexico Lottery. Here's some information on both of these gaming organizations.
New Mexico Gaming Control Board - The GCB handles many aspects of New Mexico gaming, including charitable operations, pari-mutuel betting and tribal gaming. Their website covers all of these topics along with information on laws and problem gambling.
New Mexico Lottery - Run by the government, the New Mexico Lottery oversees the state's various lottery games, and they pay the winners.
The Future & Your Views
The following points are standing in the way of New Mexico legalizing and regulating online gambling:
- No serious discussions or legislation has been presented.
- The state is mainly worried about keeping their revenue sharing going with tribal casinos.
- Tribal casinos will opposed any iGaming deal that doesn't involve them.
- No neighboring states have legalized Internet gambling.
These four factors kill any chance that New Mexico will regulate online gaming in the near future.
The points surrounding the tribes are the most damning because much of the state's non-lottery gambling revolves around casinos.
The easiest path towards legal online gambling in New Mexico involves the state and tribes coming to an agreement. Before this becomes a reality, there needs to be stability in the brick-and-mortar casinos compacts.
We haven't seen any changes in over a decade. But the amendments and disagreements in 2000 and 2007 show that turbulence is always a possibility.
One promising sign is that the Land of Enchantment is seriously considering DFS legislation. If this passes, it could open the state up to the idea of online gambling.
Until then, New Mexico's iGaming will remain in a grey area, and this means that your best chance to enjoy online casino, poker and sports betting is by visiting offshore sites.