William Hill to Open Sportsbook in NM This Week, State Revenue Down 10%

On Thursday, William Hill is opening a new sportsbook at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino in Mescalero, New Mexico. This casino is owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe and they will become the fourth tribal casino within the state to allow legal sports betting. The Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel was the first tribal casino to start taking sports bets last October. Of particular note, the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino is roughly two hours from the large city of El Paso, Texas, where that state has yet to legalize sports betting.

New Mexico’s legislature is hoping that legal sports betting at tribal casinos will help boost a declining gaming revenue. Over the last six years, the annual gaming revenue had dropped roughly 10%. Although there is no push for a legalized sports betting bill, state leaders are supporting a tribe’s right to allow sports betting at their casino.

Declining Gaming Revenue

According to a legal brief published by the Legislature’s Finance Committee, the annual revenues between the state government and tribal casinos dropped around 10% between 2012 and 2018. The brief explained that online gambling, an activity not allowed in the state, might be taking some business from the casinos in New Mexico.

The revenues and taxes from racetrack gaming and tribal casinos in New Mexico fell from $63.4 million to $61.6 million and from $69.7 million to $62.8 million respectively.

Another reason the market might be down is due to the state’s minimal population growth during that timeframe; New Mexico had just 1% population growth compared to its quickly exploding neighbor states Texas, Arizona, and Colorado.

New Mexico as a state that collects money in two ways from gaming, by taxing revenues earned from racetrack operators as well as other licensed operators and via revenue sharing from tribal casinos. Non-tribal casinos are taxed at a rate of 26% of net wins of slots gaming, and licensed fraternal and non-profit organizations are taxed at a rate of 10%.

Revenue from tribal casino revenue sharing with the state in FY18 was $62.8 million, while tax revenue from non-tribal sources was $61.6 million. Out of the non-tribal tax revenue, 3% came from non-profit operators, distributors, and manufacturers, while the remaining 97% came from racetrack casinos.

Tribal Contracts and Revenue Sharing

Agreements between the tribes and New Mexico, called compacts, allow tribes to carry out Class III gaming on native lands. All 14 tribes in the state that operate casinos are part of the 2015-2037 compact. The agreement lays out the conditions for revenue sharing. Table games, which require a casino attendant to play, are not part of revenue sharing, but all other types of games are subject to revenue sharing.

In total, there are 24 tribal casinos and a further six tribal gaming venues. There are also five racinos licensed in the state. Technically, since the compacts don’t outlaw sports betting, it isn’t legal in New Mexico. Currently, there are no sports betting bills being pushed through state legislature. So, all sports betting can only be done on tribal lands if they offer this type of gambling.

About the William Hill Sportsbook

The partnership between William Hill and the Mescalero Apache Tribe is the first of its kind for the popular, international gaming entity outside of Nevada. It could end up becoming a template for William Hill, as additional states with tribal compacts begin their foray into legalized sports betting in the near future.

The sportsbook at the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort and Casino will feature 12 large screen TVs and plenty of seating. Popular New Mexico MMA fighter Holly Holm, a former UFC champ, will be at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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