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
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
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
Anybody arrested for illegal gambling faces petty misdemeanor charges.
“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.”
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
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
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
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:
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
Bonus Terms and Conditions
If you love picking up free cash from your
play, then you need to play where bonus wagering requirements are light.
Customer Support Hours
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
Volume of Games
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.
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
New Mexico and the tribes have an agreement that they’ll share casino
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
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
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
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.
U.S. passes the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, allowing state governors to negotiate casino pacts with Native-American tribes.
Governor Bruce King’s Gubernational task force offers Class II casino compact to tribes; they reject the part.
Gov. candidate Gary Johnson announces that he’ll sign the casino pact if elected; he defeats King in the election.
Johnson signs casino agreement with 13 tribes. He also approves the state lottery.
Cities of Gold Casino quickly opens on the Pojoaque Pueblo reservation.
New Mexico Lottery tickets go on sale; Johnson buys the first one.
New Mexico Attorney General sues tribal casinos for not paying percentage of gambling revenue; state and tribes later agree to new pact.
State Legistlature and tribes amend 2001 casino compact.
Gov. Susana Martinez ars Fort Sill Apache Tribe from opening a new casino in Mexico.
House Rep. Nate Gentry introduces daily fantasy sports bill; it fails to advance.
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.
Are Daily Fantasy Sites Legal in New Mexico?
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.
Can I Gamble on My Smartphone in New Mexico?
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.
Are New Mexico’s Tribes for or against Online Gambling?
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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